PIERRE, S.D. (KCCR) – A bill to allow certified therapy dogs to accompany vulnerable witnesses when testifying in South Dakota Circuit courts gains unanimous approval from the Senate Health and Human Services Committee Wednesday. Hughes County States Attorney Roxanne Hammond tried to use such a dog in a 2019 rape case, but was denied by Judge Mark Barnett because no law existed.
Hammond, who formerly drafted bills for the Legislative Research Council, laid out details of the bill that govern requirements and certifications for the dogs and their handlers, how juries should consider the use of a dog and protections for defendants. Cindy Bailey is the certified therapy dog handler Hammond used in her motion in the rape trial. She says what the dogs can do is magic.
Senator Arthur Rusch moved do-pass on the bill.
Senate Bill 136 now moves on for consideration by the full Senate Thursday.