July 1, 2016
Courthouse dogs Pono and Ollie were guests of Gov. David Ige yesterday at a signing ceremony for House Bill 1668, which allows courts to permit the use of facility dogs in trials during testimony of vulnerable witnesses.
Pono, to the right of the governor in the photo, was introduced by Prosecuting Attorney Keith M. Kaneshiro in 2010 as Hawaii’s first courthouse dog. Pono works in the office’s victim/witness unit and helps deputies during pre-trial interviews of child victims by providing a calming presence.
With Gov. Ige’s signing of HB1668, Pono and Ollie, who works for the Kauai prosecutor’s office, will be able to accompany these same child victims into courtrooms to help reassure them during testimony.
HB1668 recognizes the ability of assistance dogs like Pono and Ollie to provide emotional support for witnesses “whose ability to testify may be hampered or ineffective” because of factors such as emotional disability, intimidation or age.
Since Pono’s arrival, prosecutors on Kauai and Hawaii island have adopted courthouse dogs.