Courtroom companions

Therapy dogs comfort child victims at the Tulsa County Courthouse.



Boo was Tulsa’s first court therapy dog, a post he has held since September 2010. The Tulsa County District Attorney’s Office now has six therapy dogs to support children in the courtroom.

Valerie Grant

Boo doesn’t know it, but he’s a hero. 

The 17-pound Bichon Frise is one of six therapy dogs in the Tulsa County District Attorney’s Office Special Dog Unit. Since 2011, the dogs have befriended children who must appear in court to talk about crimes they’ve witnessed or experienced. 

Leon Mullis, Boo’s owner, says his “live teddy bear” was accompanying a young girl to a preliminary hearing when she saw her perpetrator through the narrow glass windows of the courtroom door. The girl froze and announced, “I can’t do this.” She eventually scooped up Boo and carried him into the courtroom.

“On the way out after her testimony, she looked down at Boo and said, ‘Boo, I couldn’t have done it without you,’” Mullis says. 

The therapy dog program began when Susan Witt, who handles communication and community outreach for the district attorney’s office, read and shared an article about therapy dogs helping victims of abuse. 

“When I first read that article, the thought hit me: This is the answer to child abuse,” says Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler

In September 2010, Boo became the first court therapy dog in Tulsa when he sat with three girls as they testified against a man
accused of sexually assaulting them.

“I have seen where kids are upset — tapping a toe, or moving their legs, or maybe a tear will fall — and I have seen those dogs react and move closer to the child,” Kunzweiler says. “I don’t know how they know to see that, but they see it.”

The therapy dog is simply a silent friend who doesn’t give advice, doesn’t judge. 

Kunzweiler calls the program “a miracle of God” and says the dogs provide comfort and also typically shorten the amount of time children spend in court.

“What used to take me about 30 minutes to get a kid to talk about themselves and private parts on their body, now, with a therapy dog, that kid will probably start talking within about 10 minutes,” he says. “What used to take maybe an hour to an hour and a half of testimony on the stand now takes about a half hour.”

Amazed at how the program was working, Kunzweiler wanted to ensure other children in Oklahoma have the same opportunity.

Thanks to the work of Kunzweiler and others, a law was established in November 2014. It confirms that any child younger than 13 who has a relationship with a certified therapeutic dog and is called to testify in a criminal proceeding, is guaranteed the right to have the dog present in lieu of a support person.

“I have said many times that aside from marrying my wife and having children, I could die a happy man by getting this program instituted in Tulsa and the state of Oklahoma,” Kunzweiler says. “It has the potential to permanently change how traumatized victims are treated in the courtroom.”

Kunzweiler says he hopes that, in the future, therapy dogs will be available to other trauma victims who aren’t children. 

Each court therapy dog has completed obedience training as well as a therapy dog exam. It also is certified as an AKC Canine Good Citizen and registered as a therapy dog team with its owner.

Zack, an English springer spaniel, and his handler, Peggy Striegel, also volunteer in the special dog unit. Zack makes it his job to say hello to everyone at the courthouse.

“He’s not only providing therapy for the child, he’s providing therapy for the whole family unit,” Striegel says. “They’re all getting just a little distraction from this horrific thing they’re facing.” 

Boo and his furry friends don’t have capes or super powers, but they’re saving the day one case at a time.

 

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »You Might Like

A picnic grove, a new director for Gathering Place

The Unit Corp. Picnic Grove is a venue for quality family time.

Focus on eye health

Protect your eyes at every stage of life.

The List: October 2016

5 fool-proof football food stops
Edit Module

Add your comment:
A-List

 

Get the best in arts, entertainment and more straight to your inbox.

Join our email list

Edit ModuleShow Tags

December 2018

We’re serving up our new chef-inspired fondue and traditional brunch options like Alpine Benedict Cheese Fondue, French Toast Fondue, Avocado Fiesta Toast plus bottomless mimosas. Reserve...

Cost: Varies

Where:
The Melting Pot of Tulsa
300 Riverwalk Terrace #190
Jenks, OK  74037
View map »


Sponsor: The Melting Pot of Tulsa
Telephone: 918-299-8000
Contact Name: Alex Cooper
Website »

More information

FlyingTee is fun for the whole family and on Sundays, kids eat free! *Limit one free meal from the kids’ menu with each purchase of an adult entrée. Not valid on brunches or holidays.

Cost: Free with purchase

Where:
FlyingTee
600 Riverwalk Terrace
Jenks, OK  74037
View map »


Telephone: 918-528-7717
Website »

More information

Funday Sunday at Gilcrease Museum On this free community day, take holiday photos with Santa Claus (2:30-4:30 p.m.), listen to musical performances, make artworks inspired by the season,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Gilcrease Museum
Tulsa, OK


Telephone: 918-596-2700
Website »

More information

Santa will be stopping by to visit the Oklahoma Aquarium on December 16 from 1:00pm - 3:00pm! Get your picture taken, decorate gingerbread cookies, make an ornament, and play on our bounce...

Cost: Free with the purchase of a general admission

Where:
Oklahoma Aquarium
300 Aquarium Dr.
Jenks, OK  74037
View map »


Sponsor: Oklahoma Aquarium
Website »

More information

What: Santa Claus at Bradford Park in Broken Arrow! Where: Capital Homes at The Reserve at Bradford Park Model Home: 1507 E Jasper Pl, Broken Arrow, OK 74011 When: Sunday, December 16, 3 pm –...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Reserve at Bradford Park Model Home
1507 E Jasper Pl
Broken Arrow, OK  74011
View map »


Sponsor: Capital Homes Residential Group, LLC
Telephone: 918-630-9633
Contact Name: Amanda Connolly
Website »

More information

Reconnect with family and friends in the garden illuminated with colorful lights. Make s'mores over fire pits, enjoy holiday music and take in the spirit of the season in our magical garden...

Cost: Tickets are $15 for ages 13+; $5 for ages 3-12, Children 2 and under are free.

Where:
Tulsa Botanic Garden
3900 Tulsa Botanic Drive
Tulsa, OK  74127
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Botanic Garden

More information

Songs for a New World music & lyrics by Jason Robert Brown directed by Karlena Riggs It’s about one moment. It’s about hitting the wall and having to make a choice…...

Cost: $25.00

Where:
Studio 308
308 S. Lansing
Tulsa, OK  74120
View map »


Sponsor: American Theatre Company
Telephone: (918) 747-9494
Contact Name: Meghan Hurley
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Reconnect with family and friends in the garden illuminated with colorful lights. Make s'mores over fire pits, enjoy holiday music and take in the spirit of the season in our magical garden...

Cost: Tickets are $15 for ages 13+; $5 for ages 3-12, Children 2 and under are free.

Where:
Tulsa Botanic Garden
3900 Tulsa Botanic Drive
Tulsa, OK  74127
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Botanic Garden

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Whether you are ready to enroll for your first semester at OSU-Tulsa or are exploring transfer options for a future semester, let OSU-Tulsa help you get started during Transfer Days. Our advising,...

Cost: Free

Where:
OSU-Tulsa
700 N. Greenwood Ave.
Tulsa, OK  74106
View map »


Sponsor: OSU-Tulsa
Telephone: 918-594-8355
Website »

More information

Reconnect with family and friends in the garden illuminated with colorful lights. Make s'mores over fire pits, enjoy holiday music and take in the spirit of the season in our magical garden...

Cost: Tickets are $15 for ages 13+; $5 for ages 3-12, Children 2 and under are free.

Where:
Tulsa Botanic Garden
3900 Tulsa Botanic Drive
Tulsa, OK  74127
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Botanic Garden

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Reconnect with family and friends in the garden illuminated with colorful lights. Make s'mores over fire pits, enjoy holiday music and take in the spirit of the season in our magical garden...

Cost: Tickets are $15 for ages 13+; $5 for ages 3-12, Children 2 and under are free.

Where:
Tulsa Botanic Garden
3900 Tulsa Botanic Drive
Tulsa, OK  74127
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Botanic Garden

More information

Every Wednesday Live Event Trivia is at The Willows Family Ales - Show starts at 7 and is free to play! Movie scenes, Finish the Lyric, Classic Trivia, and more! The crew from T-Town Tacos will be...

Cost: Free

Where:
The Willows Family Ales
418 south peoria ave
tulsa, OK  74120
View map »


Sponsor: The Willows Family Ales
Telephone: (918) 895-6798
Contact Name: Julian Morgan
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Mothers of Preschoolers (and preschool means prior to school, ages 6 weeks to 5 years old). MOPS warmly welcomes any mom that has at least one child age 6 weeks to 5 years old. By joining MOPS, you...

Cost: Free

Where:
Eastwood Baptist Church
948 S 91st E Ave
Tulsa, OK  74112
View map »


Sponsor: Eastwood Baptist Church
Telephone: 918-836-8686
Contact Name: Shirley Pittenger
Website »

More information

Reconnect with family and friends in the garden illuminated with colorful lights. Make s'mores over fire pits, enjoy holiday music and take in the spirit of the season in our magical garden...

Cost: Tickets are $15 for ages 13+; $5 for ages 3-12, Children 2 and under are free.

Where:
Tulsa Botanic Garden
3900 Tulsa Botanic Drive
Tulsa, OK  74127
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Botanic Garden

More information

Local, Live Music at the The Willows Family Ales taproom EVERY Thursday at 7:30pm. Surprise food vendor to be announced SOON!! 11/1 ---- Eric Himan 11/8 ---- Wendy Nichol Hall 11/15---...

Cost: FREE!!

Where:
The Willows Family Ales
418 south peoria ave
418 South Peoria Ave
Tulsa, OK  74120
View map »


Sponsor: The Willows Family Ales
Contact Name: Julian Morgan

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Its that time a year again and that means our 3rd annual Mens Shopping Event is here!! We are so excited to be having this event! This year we are doing things a little different, instead of one...

Cost: 0.00

Where:
Rhanes Spa
6422 S Elm Pl
Broken Arrow, OK  74011
View map »


Sponsor: Rhanes Spa
Telephone: 918.872.9211
Contact Name: Angela or Dakota
Website »

More information

Reconnect with family and friends in the garden illuminated with colorful lights. Make s'mores over fire pits, enjoy holiday music and take in the spirit of the season in our magical garden...

Cost: Tickets are $15 for ages 13+; $5 for ages 3-12, Children 2 and under are free.

Where:
Tulsa Botanic Garden
3900 Tulsa Botanic Drive
Tulsa, OK  74127
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Botanic Garden

More information

Philbrook Festival is back and better than ever! Enjoy the most beautiful place in Oklahoma during the most wonderful time of the year. The Museum comes alive with festive holiday events, Santa,...

Cost: $5/Philbrook Members, $15/Public, Free/17 & Under

Where:
Philbrook Museum of Art
2727 S. Rockford Rd.
Tulsa, OK  74114
View map »


Sponsor: Philbrook Museum of Art
Telephone: 918-748-5300
Website »

More information

This is the first of an annual event exclusively for Millennials (The Mille). Come out and have a good time while knowing you're supporting a good cause!    All proceeds will go to...

Cost: Starting at $30.00

Where:
NOAH'S Event Venue
12710 East State Farm Blvd
Tulsa, OK  74146
View map »


Sponsor: Push Push Pray Foundation
Telephone: 918-250-3709
Contact Name: Sharon Thomas
Website »

More information

The Vox Solaris Chamber Choir will present its Winter 2018 Concert on December 21, 2018 at St. Patrick's Episcopal Church.  The choir is a non-profit organization and all ticket and donation...

Cost: $15 General Admission / $5 Students & Senior Citizens

Where:
St. Patrick's Episcopal Church
4250 W. Houston St.
Broken Arrow, OK  74012
View map »


Sponsor: Vox Solaris Chamber Choir
Website »

More information

Songs for a New World music & lyrics by Jason Robert Brown directed by Karlena Riggs It’s about one moment. It’s about hitting the wall and having to make a choice…...

Cost: $25.00

Where:
Studio 308
308 S. Lansing
Tulsa, OK  74120
View map »


Sponsor: American Theatre Company
Telephone: (918) 747-9494
Contact Name: Meghan Hurley
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Its that time a year again and that means our 3rd annual Mens Shopping Event is here!! We are so excited to be having this event! This year we are doing things a little different, instead of one...

Cost: 0.00

Where:
Rhanes Spa
6422 S Elm Pl
Broken Arrow, OK  74011
View map »


Sponsor: Rhanes Spa
Telephone: 918.872.9211
Contact Name: Angela or Dakota
Website »

More information

We’re serving up our new chef-inspired fondue and traditional brunch options like Alpine Benedict Cheese Fondue, French Toast Fondue, Avocado Fiesta Toast plus bottomless mimosas. Reserve...

Cost: Varies

Where:
The Melting Pot of Tulsa
300 Riverwalk Terrace #190
Jenks, OK  74037
View map »


Sponsor: The Melting Pot of Tulsa
Telephone: 918-299-8000
Contact Name: Alex Cooper
Website »

More information

Reconnect with family and friends in the garden illuminated with colorful lights. Make s'mores over fire pits, enjoy holiday music and take in the spirit of the season in our magical garden...

Cost: Tickets are $15 for ages 13+; $5 for ages 3-12, Children 2 and under are free.

Where:
Tulsa Botanic Garden
3900 Tulsa Botanic Drive
Tulsa, OK  74127
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Botanic Garden

More information

America’s LARGEST interactive comedy murder mystery dinner show is now playing at the Hilton Garden Inn Tulsa Broken Arrow! At The Dinner Detective, you’ll tackle a challenging crime while you...

Cost: 59.95

Where:
Hilton Garden Inn Tulsa- Broken Arrow
420 W Albany St.
Broken Arrow, OK  74012
View map »


Telephone: 866-496-0535
Contact Name: The Dinner Detective
Website »

More information

The Oklahoma Swing Syndicate (TOSS) hosts a Swing dance and lessons  The Oklahoma Swing Syndicate (TOSS) is the only UNESCO recognized dance organization in Oklahoma.  We are a 501c3...

Cost: $7

Where:
Community Center - South Minister Presby Church
3500 So Peoria
1/2 west of Peoria, on 35pl behind the church
Tulsa, OK  74102
View map »


Sponsor: The Ok Swing Syndicate
Telephone: 918-450-691
Contact Name: Rita Robbins
Website »

More information

  Brian Nhira & Friends from ‘The Voice’ to Perform 3rd Annual Tulsa Christmas Concert at the TCC VanTrease PACE.   Tulsa, OK -- Brian Nhira, an incredibly gifted...

Cost: Tickets starting at $25

Where:
TCC Vantrease PACE
10300 E 81st St.
Tulsa
Tulsa, OK  74033
View map »


Sponsor: Brian Nhira Music & Good Life Music & Media Lessons
Telephone: 918-704-8855
Contact Name: Jasper Nhira
Website »

More information

Come see ORU Mens Basketball vs Tulsa

Cost: $15-25

Where:
Mabee Center
7777 South Lewis Ave
Tulsa
Tulsa, OK  74171
View map »


Telephone: 918-495-6000
Contact Name: Mabee Center
Website »

More information

Co-hosted by Josh New and the Tulsa Artist Fellowship, a cultural initiative of the George Kaiser Family Foundation, Karl Jones presents Figures in Skating, an evening performance of mixed media,...

Cost: $5.00

Where:
Loose Leaf Co.
2308 E. Admiral Blvd.
Tulsa, OK  74110
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Artist Fellowship & Josh New
Telephone: 202-468-5275
Contact Name: Karl Jones
Website »

More information

Songs for a New World music & lyrics by Jason Robert Brown directed by Karlena Riggs It’s about one moment. It’s about hitting the wall and having to make a choice…...

Cost: $25.00

Where:
Studio 308
308 S. Lansing
Tulsa, OK  74120
View map »


Sponsor: American Theatre Company
Telephone: (918) 747-9494
Contact Name: Meghan Hurley
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Giving Guide
Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

TULtalk


Get a taste of the coasts at the new Peacemaker

Lobster rolls and seafood boils top the menu at the St. Louis-born restaurant, which opened a new location in Tulsa.

Comments

Ordering Christmas to-go

You can’t go wrong picking up anything at Stonehorse Market in Utica Square.

Comments

3 winning cookie swap recipes

If you only make one thing this holiday season, it might well be a cookie. Here are some go-to recipes for your next cookie swap.

Comments

Chef Justin Thompson just released a new cookbook

“Trial and Error” presents many of the most pivotal dishes and recipes to his life and career as a chef.

Comments

Pure makes your holidays a little healthier

Whether you want to do a one-day juice fast or start adding more plant-based foods to your diet, Pure Food and Juice is a good place to start.

Comments