Bill to allow therapy dogs in court heading to Governor’s desk

PIERRE, S.D. (KCCR) – A Senate bill to allow certified therapy dogs in Circuit court to assist vulnerable witnesses is awaiting a signature from Governor Kristi Noem after an attempt to amend the bill failed on the House floor. The bill was Hughes County State’s Attorney Roxanne Hammond’s idea and carried by legislators Senator Deb Soholt and Representative Ryan Cwach.   Hammond says she got concerned when Representative Tina Mulally pulled the bill from the Consent Calendar.

Hammond says Mulally’s move was surprising to many people involved in getting Senate Bill 136 through the legislature.

The bill idea was prompted when now retired Judge Mark Barnett refused to allow such a dog in a 2019 trial and encouraged Hammond to bring it to the legislature.

She excited to see how the bill will benefit vulnerable victims of crime.

The next step is under the pen of Governor Kristi Noem. Hammond says she hasn’t talked directly with Noem, but has been told the Governor is in favor of the bill.