Have you heard of “facility” dogs?

According to a proposed bill at the Hawaii Legislature, a facility dog is a graduate from an assistance dog organization accredited by Assistance Dogs International “specially trained to provide emotional support to witnesses testifying in judicial proceedings without causing a distraction during the proceedings.”

House Bill 1668 would authorize any state court to permit the use of a facility dog in a judicial proceeding “involving the testimony of a vulnerable witness if the court determines that there is a compelling necessity for the use of a trained and credential facility dog to facilitate the testimony of a vulnerable witness.”

Vulnerable witness” means a witness whose ability to testify in a judicial proceeding “will be hampered or ineffective without the assistance of a facility dog, for reasons including but not limited to intellectual or emotional disability, intimidation, or age.”

HB 1668, which has a hearing Friday, is part of the Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney’s legislative package.

Pono, a Honolulu courthouse dog for vulnerable witnesses .
Pono, a Honolulu courthouse dog for vulnerable witnesses. Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney

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