Courthouse Critters

Things are getting hairy at the Kitsap County Prosecutor’s office.

Today I went there to interview a dog, specifically a two-year-old yellow lab who is the county’s new canine courthouse companion (my story will run Friday, barring unforeseen circumstances).

Such animals have been found useful in diffusing tension in courtrooms and other settings of the criminal justice system, especially when children must testify about crimes they have witnessed or experienced.

Courthouse Dogs

Courthouse dogs are already at work in King, Snohomish and Skagit counties. According to the the website Courthouse dogs, “Since 2003 courthouse dogs have provided comfort to children who have been sexually abused while they undergo forensic interviews and testify in court. The dogs also assist drug court participants in their recovery, visit juveniles in detention facilities, greet jurors and in general lift the spirits of courthouse staff who often conduct their business in an adversarial setting.”

Now before you go getting all upset about frivolous county expenditures, know that Kerris (that’s her name) was presented to the county courtesy of Canine Companions for Independence. And it’s no small gift, because these highly trained dogs cost CCI $20,000 to $30,000.

Let me just say this. If Kerris ever runs for office, she has my vote.

Speaking of animals at the courthouse, have you notice the assorted bunnies roaming around the parking lot behind the jail? They are always there, but hardly ever the same ones. Feral rabbits no doubt. But, I mean, why the courthouse?

Which leads to another question … if elephants are Republican and donkeys are Democrat, to what party do the rabbits belong? I’m thinking they’re Socialists.

And while we’re at it, what is with the donkey and the elephant anyway?

According to the Democratic Party website, “when Andrew Jackson ran for president in 1828, his opponents tried to label him a “jackass” for his populist views and his slogan, “Let the people rule.” Jackson, however, picked up on their name calling and turned it to his own advantage by using the donkey on his campaign posters. During his presidency, the donkey was used to represent Jackson’s stubbornness when he vetoed re-chartering the National Bank.”

According to this website, cartoonist Thomas Nast later used the Democratic donkey in newspaper cartoons and made the symbol famous. “Nast invented another famous symbol—the Republican elephant. In a cartoon that appeared in Harper’s Weekly in 1874, Nast drew a donkey clothed in lion’s skin, scaring away all the animals at the zoo. One of those animals, the elephant, was labeled ‘The Republican Vote.’ That’s all it took for the elephant to become associated with the Republican Party.”

Now, I wonder what party the chickens belong to?

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