Paw patrol to ease anxious NSW witnesses

Luke Costin

More lovable labradors will be put to work on paw patrol helping anxious witnesses, victims of crime and accused criminals before they appear in NSW courts.

The state government is expanding the courthouse therapy dog program to 10 courthouses after a pilot program at Manly Local Court received unanimous support for relaxing anxious victims and witnesses before they gave evidence.

"The fab labs will patrol the courthouses, looking to help anyone who's stressed and in need of fur therapy," NSW Attorney General Mark Speakman said in a statement on Wednesday.

Guide Dogs NSW/ACT, which has a growing therapy dog program, will administer the court companion program in Burwood, Campbelltown, Sutherland and Manly courts in Sydney, and regional courts in Gosford, Goulburn, Lismore, Nowra, Orange and Taree.

"We know that the presence of a dog can help calm people and lower anxiety, and it's wonderful to see our dogs are already doing this at Manly Courthouse," Guide Dogs chief executive Dale Cleaver said.

"I'm looking forward to seeing our dogs soon bring comfort and companionship to court users at other courts throughout NSW."

The dogs will be in all 10 courthouses by early next year.