Therapy Dog Supports Sex Trafficking Victims While They Testify

During their testimony, Iggy eases the most vulnerable of victims.

By Justyne Yuen-Lee

iggy-facility-dog (CBC)

Credit: CBC

Toronto’s Boost Child & Youth Advocacy Centre employs a three-year-old Labrador Retriever and Bernese Mountain Dog mix, named Iggy, as a facility dog. Iggy is trained  to work with young female survivors of the sex trafficking trade. He, along with a child protection worker, greet the girls as they approach the police station and then Iggy stays during forensic interviews with police.

boostforkidsFB2

Credit: Facebook / Boost for Kids

Karyn Kennedy, president and chief executive of Boost, explains, “Iggy’s there just for them. He doesn’t judge. He’s there to comfort them; he is there to make them feel safe.”

iggy-facility-dog (CBC2)

Credit: CBC

Most recently, Iggy helped a three-year-old girl share, with relative confidence, the trauma she endured. His calm presence eases the most vulnerable and frightened victims so that they can give thorough testimony about their horrifying experiences.

boostforkids

Credit: Instagram / @boostforkids

Iggy also goes to court with the children when they testify against their abuser. It’s a harrowing experience to be at court, let alone face the person who caused you harm. Court officials have many good things to say about Iggy and the effects of his calm and consistent presence.

K9CaberFB

Credit: Facebook / K9Caber

The Canadian Province of Ontario began to allow facility dogs into courts in 2016. Merel came first, then Iggy, and now Boost has applied for a third dog!

boostforkidsFB

Credit: Facebook / Boost for Kids

It will be hard to find a dog as dedicated as Iggy. He is totally devoted to his work and excellent at his job thanks to two years of training at National Service Dogs in Cambridge, Ontario. Iggy gives trauma victims dignity and courage at a most terrible time. Great job, Iggy!