This legal assistance dog from the Gard firefighters is there to help litigants, victims or defendants, to best face the ordeal of the criminal trial. For the first time, he intervened Thursday, October 19 in the Hérault.
In September, he was in Marseille, with the bus driver tried for the terrible accident of Millas. This Wednesday, October 19 in Montpellier, Rancho, the Gard firefighters’ legal aid dog, is on the other side of the bar, at the feet of a victim. For several months, this three-year-old American Labrador has been accompanying litigants in this very special moment that is the criminal hearing.
He regularly intervenes in the court of Nîmes
“When the person is going to emit negative emotions, the dog will feel it, beg him for caresses, be attentive. He is a comfort dog, of empathy” explains Warrant Officer Jérôme Lapp. “In Montpellier, it’s a first, but he regularly intervenes in the court of Nîmes”.
Sexual assaults committed by the cook
Before the Montpellier court, Rancho meets Sylvie, a young mentally deficient woman, victim of sexual assault, for many years, in the establishment of help through work (Esat) of Hérault where she works. as a cook. The cook who recognized these multiple inappropriate gestures appeared free at the hearing. Caresses, hugs: Sylvie firmly holds Rancho’s leash as she enters the court, alongside her lawyer, Me Pëchevis. He lies down at her feet, in front of the bench of the civil party, she has her head down, and only looks at him.
A concept imported from the United States
“Today we have an assistance dog, which in no way intervenes in the court’s decision. It is simply a psychological aid to help people get through the ordeal of the criminal trial, but it is completely neutral” indicates the presiding judge Frédéric Almendros. In 2019, while he was a prosecutor in Cahors, the magistrate fought to introduce the first legal assistance dog, a concept imported from the United States.
Rancho falls asleep at Sylvie’s feet
At the helm, Frédéric, the cook, answers questions, while the president details the alleged facts. The room is crowded, it’s hot, the weather stretches out. On her bench, Sylvie is crying. Rancho, on the other hand, has his muzzle resting on his feet, but seems… sound asleep. His master wakes him up, he straightens up, she caresses him, he goes back to bed.
After the break and a bowl of water, Rancho is transformed. He is standing against Sylvie, wagging his tail, resting his muzzle on her knees. “He was very busy this morning, and clearly this afternoon he was not at his job. Normally, when the person cries, he approaches her, sometimes stands on her directly” notes Warrant Officer Llap. “But Sylvie seems happy to have had him with her this afternoon.”