British Columbia

Max the therapy dog helps girl, 9, testify in Prince George court

A trauma dog named Max has helped a 9-year-old girl testify in B.C. Supreme Court — a first for northern B.C.

Golden retriever named Max sat with the girl in the witness box while she testified

Therapy dog Max helps people testify in court in Prince George, B.C. (CBC)

A trauma dog named Max has helped a 9-year-old girl testify in B.C. Supreme Court — a first for northern B.C.

"My job was to tell the truth and hold his leash," said the girl, whose name has been withheld. 

Therapy dogs have been used to help young children testify in court in Delta, B.C., Saskatchewan, and in Calgary, but this was a first for Prince George, B.C.

"Animals ground people," said Krista Levar, Max's owner.

"Touching a dog, the feeling of fur under your skin, just makes people feel a little bit calmer and words just flow a little easier."


To listen to the full audio, click the link labelled: Max the therapy dog helps girl, 9, testify in Prince George court.

Levar lives and works with Max, a golden retriever, for RCMP Victim Services in Prince George.

Max works for Prince George RCMP. (Betsy Trumpener/CBC)

Prior to the trial, Max received extensive training and preparation — including attending a mock trial with a judge and jury. 

At the actual trial, Max sat in the witness box with the girl. Meanwhile, Levar sat in the front row of the public gallery, trying to control him with just her eyes and a few hand motions. 

As the girl struggled to give her emotional testimony, Max looked up at her and occasionally rolled over on his side. 

"It's a big deal," said Levar. "We're happy for the opportunity to help witnesses build confidence and step up in court and tell their story."

The two people accused in the case were found guilty of unlawfully causing bodily harm. They're awaiting sentencing.


To listen to the full audio, click the link labelled: Max the therapy dog helps girl, 9, testify in Prince George court.

With files from Betsy Trumpener and Daybreak North

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