A Louisiana first: Therapy dog to help witness testify - KSLA News 12 Shreveport, Louisiana News Weather & Sports

A Louisiana first: Therapy dog to help witness testify

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) -

A therapy dog is set to accompany a witness to the stand for the first time in a Louisiana courtroom this week.

It's been nearly two years since a horrific accident May 5, 2010 along Highway 165 in which two Lake Charles area women were killed.  One of those women was Shannon Cox, who was driving the car in which Beth Zilbert was a passenger. Zilbert was severely injured but survived the crash and now faces the ordeal of testifying in the upcoming trial of the man who allegedly caused the crash.

The truck, driven by Roy Serie, cut through the median and struck another traveling the opposite direction. The investigation and tests revealed that Serie was allegedly under the influence of THC, the drug found in marijuana.  He was charged with vehicular homicide, felony negligent injury and DUI.

The case is set for trial Wednesday, March 7 and Zilbert, who now suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, has received permission to have her dog Luke with her in the courtroom.  Luke is a certified, registered, therapy dog and will make Louisiana history by being allowed to assist a victim testify against the person accused of hurting her.

Zilbert, herself an attorney, thinks the situation offers tremendous opportunity to move the justice system forward, if victims with PTSD and other emotional disorders caused by trauma are allowed to have a therapy dog as a reasonable accommodation to help them in confronting the source of their trauma.

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