Comfort dogs now allowed on the witness stand at the Will County Courthouse

FOX 32 NEWS - The Will County Courthouse is going to the dogs - in a good way. It’s become one of the first in the state to allow comfort dogs on the witness stand to help traumatized children who are victims of sexual abuse.

"The medical studies show it reduces your blood pressure, it calms you emotionally and that's going to put you in the best position to think,” said Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow.

Glasgow says dogs have been used for some time in the courthouse's Children's Advocacy Center to comfort young victims of sexual abuse, as well as adults with developmental disabilities.

Now, a change in state law allows young sex abuse victims to actually bring a comfort dog into the courtroom while they testify.

Kiwi is the first dog to be certified for the program.

"The dog will be out of sight. The child can be in contact with the dog, pet the dog. And that's why a dog like Kiwi, she never barks, she never moves, she's completely under control,” Glasgow said.

Now there are state rules about how these dogs can be used during trials. For instance, the witness sitting in the box can have the dog down here, but they have to remain out of sight of the jury.

"You don't want the jury making any decision because they felt, well why is it necessary for this witness to have a comfort dog? Or we love this dog so we're gonna side with whatever side brought in the comfort dog,” said Will County Chief Judge Richard Schoenstedt.

Not only are these dogs helping young victims testify, they're also helping catch child predators.

Cache is a black lab specially trained to sniff out electronics like SD cards, thumb drives and portable hard drives that are frequently used to store child porn.

"They all are made with a chemical that this dog is trained to sniff,” said Megan Brooks of the Will County High Tech Crime Unit.

Dogs are a man's best friend, and now a criminal's worst nightmare.

Glasgow says their new hi-tech detection dog will be made available to other law enforcement agencies in the Chicago area.