The Minister of Justice is in Orleans this Tuesday, December 20, to announce the generalization of legal assistance dogs throughout France. At the hospital center in Orleans, a dog is already working with minor victims. With “beneficial effects only”.
He has only been there for a year and a half, but he is already one of the mainstays of the unit. He is Orko, a handsome golden retriever who arrived in Loiret in June 2019 at the age of 2. He then joined the pediatric reception unit for children at risk (UAPED) at the hospital center in Orleans, where he comes to accompany minors, there are victims of violence.
Orko is what in a jargon is still relatively uncommonly called a legal assistance dog. A practice from North America, still not known in Europe, was tested in France for the first time in the party in 2019. From this experience, Renaissance member of parliament Huguette Tiegna drew up a bill, registered in the National Assembly in 2020, and still in the parliament tube.
This Tuesday, December 20, it was Minister of Justice Eric Dupond-Moretti himself who decided to go broke. Visiting the court in Orleans, accompanied by Brigitte Macron, the seal holder promised the deployment of one legal aid dog per year. department, at least thanks to a partnership with the Handi’Chiens association, which undergoes extensive animal training. The minister also took advantage of his visit to meet Orko, as well as his referent, Marie-Laure Toulmé, nurse at UAPED.
As Orko’s arrival in Orléans began to be confirmed, the nurse offered to take over her duties. “In the evenings he goes out with me, he goes on weekends and holidays with me and I take him to the vet“, says Marie-Laure Toulmé.
From Orko’s arrival, the nurse does not shoot “only beneficial effects, whether for the child, its companions, the investigator, the team here“:
“It is particularly obvious for teenagers because they come closed, worried, on their phone. It is often difficult to establish contact. Then I explain to them that they have the option of getting a dog. And you can see the difference, their shoulders relax and their smiles come out.”
Because for child victims, the process of coming to UAPED is an ordeal in itself. “The child arrives in a place he doesn’t know, with people he doesn’t know, to talk about things he doesn’t want to talk about.“In the middle of this sea of the unknown, the dog appears as a lifeline.”The child sees benevolence, he relaxes, he calms down“. A way to build confidence, confidence leads to the word.
Orko has also established itself as a real solution to the savings of a hearing by an investigator. Where – this is the law – the investigator and the victim are alone. “Before the audition, we already had tools to relax children, like clownssays Marie-Laure Toulmé. But during the audition we were helpless.“
The dog’s arrival changed everything. Because he has the right to accompany the minor. According to the nurse, it soothes the most tense and calms the hyperactive. “He is very passive, he always lies down and some children end up sitting next to him to start talking.“Evidence of the miracle: the carer remembers a hearing by an investigator at the police station who had none”nothing given“, before being successfully renewed in UAPED with Orko.”And we even have investigators tell us that the hearings are less burdensome for them.”
The arrival of the dog in Orléans is still recent, but the long-term goal is to be able to accompany child victims from their first questioning to their questioning, in case they go through the court. This is in any case the wish of Eric Dupond-Moretti, and “a work track” induced at UAPED by CHRO.