A. The court shall allow a witness who is either under eighteen years of age or who has a developmental disability as defined in R.S. 28:451.2 to have a facility dog, if available, accompany them while testifying in court.
B. The court may allow any witness who does not meet the criteria provided for in Subsection A of this Section to have a facility dog, if available, accompany them while testifying in court.
C. A party seeking the use of a facility dog must file a notice with the court that includes the certification of the dog, the name of the person or entity who certified the dog, and evidence that the dog is insured.
D. To ensure that the presence of a facility dog does not influence the jury or is not a reflection on the truthfulness of any testimony that is offered by the victim or witness, the court shall instruct the jury on the role of the facility dog and that the facility dog is a trained animal.
E. For the purposes of this Section, “facility dog” means a dog that is certified and a graduate of an assistance dog organization that is accredited by Assistance Dogs International or a similar internationally recognized organization whose main purpose is to grant accreditation to assistance dog organizations based on standards of excellence in all areas of assistance dog acquisition, training, and placement. A “facility dog” is one that is specially trained to provide emotional support to witnesses testifying in judicial proceedings without causing a distraction during the proceedings.
Added by Acts 2018, No. 503, § 1.