By Anne Bouaziz
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This Tuesday, September 20, 2022, five teenagers injured in the bus accident in Millas, five years ago, were heard at the criminal court of Marseilles (Bouches-du-Rhone).
Among them, Alice, 18 years old. “The barriers were closing, I saw the train coming, I woke up on the ground on the tracks. I dragged myself thinking that a second train was going to pass. I got out and looked at myself. I saw my leg in a pitiful state, ”says the teenager who had her right leg amputated.
“You are very brave”
His testimony, like that of the other four, is strong and resonates in the silent room. In front of her, the Judge Celine Ballerini says: “You are very brave, you and all the others too. Behind Alicia sits the bus driver, Nadine Oliveira, head bowed.
At the feet of the teenager, is Ouchi, a legal aid dog. A few meters further, there is Rancho. ouchi support the victimsRancho the bus driver.
It was the jurisdiction of Marseilles which requested that these dogs be present for accompany the different parties At the trial. What is their role ? How are they educated? Explanations.
Nine legal assistance dogs in France
“From the first times, we saw the support that a legal assistance dog could provide”, begins Florian Auffret, member of the association. Handi’dogs. It goes back to 2019 with LOL in Cahors, the first legal assistance dog. Today, they are nine for the whole of France.
For now, Handi’chiens is the only structure in France to provide this type of education. These assistance dogs are intended to accompany children and adults with disabilities. But since 2019, the association has offered legal assistance dogs.
These have the same basis as a classic assistance dog for people with disabilities. They pass until 18 months in foster care to start learning some commands.
“At 18 months, they enter our training center and are supervised by professionals”, explains Florian Auffret.
Dogs with a “high degree of empathy”
How do you know if a particular dog is better suited to accompany victims on the stand?
The dog must be calm, have a high degree of empathy and easily get in touch with the person.
The dogs with which the association works are 95% of Labradors or Golden Retrievers. “These are dogs that have a very good reputation, and we easily get in touch with them”, always explains Florian Auffret.
It should be noted that at the trial of the drama of Millas, there is two legal aid dogs. One for the victims, the other for the driver. “This accident was a real trauma, the dogs are there for the accompany to verbalize what they feel. If the victims see that the dog also supports the driver in question, they will be much less confident, ”explains Florian Auffret.
From the bar to the benches
How the contact is created between the dog and the victims? “We first offer the presence of the dog to the person, whether they need to have it close to them or not, and then there can be several scenarios,” he specifies.
At the trial of Millas, Aurore Boursereau of the association France Victim 58 is Ouchi’s referent. “Here, the connections will be made before the hearing,” she reported Monday, before the teenagers’ hearings.
But the support Ouchi can provide doesn’t stop at the helm. This Tuesday morning, just after her more than poignant testimony, Océane returned to the benches of the civil parties, alongside her relatives. With at his feet, Ouchi.
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