Dogs join court staff in Delaware County to help ease children's nerves

Heading into court can be stressful for most adults so you can only imagine how a child feels in a big courthouse. But now, some furry four-legged friends are helping ease their fears. For the first time, dogs are being added to a courthouse in our area.

Arial met Frangelica outside their job Wednesday. They are the newest special agents - all volunteer - to join the Delaware County Justice League at the county courthouse.

The dogs and their human partners are assigned by common pleas judge Nathaniel Nichols to perform a critical, delicate task involving children called to testify.

"I would see those children in the waiting room and you could just tell from their body language how fearful they were. How uncomfortable they were," he explained.

Judge Nichols, a life-long dog lover, saw therapy dogs in action inside a courtroom in another state -- "Paws for People" has therapy dogs in court in Maryland.

Katheryn Meloni is a local family attorney and Paws for People partner to 5-year-old Frangelica.

Both have completed hours of training to work with kids inside a court setting. David Mullenix says he and 8- year-old arial will be ready.

While Delaware County courts are first in our area and in Pennsyvania, "Paws for People" says courts in New Castle County, Delaware, may be next. So far, they have right therapy teams ready to work in the courtroom.