Grantee's Stories

Arrow Child & Family Ministries

Giving Victims the Courage to Testify Using Service Dogs
Freedom Place, a program of Arrow Child & Family Ministries, is a care and recovery center for victims of child sex-trafficking, serving girls ages eight to seventeen. It is the first long-term, comprehensive care facility in Texas for minor victims of domestic child sex-trafficking and is one of only five such facilities in the United States.

With a $25,000 grant from the Texas Bar Foundation, Freedom Place created a canine therapy and vocational program for the girls to care for and train the dogs used for therapy. The facility built to house the service dog program includes four dog kennels, a working room, a storage room, a washing and grooming area and an outside fenced common area.

The recovery process for victims of sex-trafficking is emotional and challenging, and one major obstacle is seeking legal justice from their abusers. The extreme trauma they have endured makes facing their perpetrators in the courtroom enormously difficult, and the victims’ fear and anxiety often prevents them from testifying. By allowing victims the comforting, strengthening presence of a service dog in the courtroom, Freedom Place’s new program will support justice efforts for residents who have the opportunity to testify against their perpetrators.

Goldie will help traumatized victims of child sex exploitation overcome shame, disgrace, and levels of insecurity not only when they possibly testify against their perpetrators but also in daily life

Service dogs have demonstrated promising results in helping crime victims summon the courage and strength to speak out in court against their offenders. Scientific evidence shows that the presence of a friendly, appropriately trained dog can result in decreased anxiety, increased speech and memory functions, and heightened mental clarity, thereby improving the efficiency and quality of the legal process.

“With the calming, supportive presence of a service dog for an added boost of courage, more girls will testify about their horrific experiences as coerced victims of commercial sex-trafficking, and more perpetrators will be put behind bars.”

Debi Tengler
Chief Relations Officer of Arrow Child & Family Ministries