March 31, 2012

Should Mediation go to the Dogs?

By Cynthia Alkon

Before I joined academia, I brought my dog to work with me, and learned through first-hand experience how he lowered stress levels and made the work day more pleasant. For the results of a study finding dogs decrease stress at work and increase productivity see: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/03/30/scientific-study-recommends-bringing-dogs-to-the-workplace/

Dogs have also been brought into law schools to help decrease student-stress. For cute photos of happy law students from George Mason University playing with puppies see: http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/cuddly-puppies-help-law-students-de-stress-before-exams/2011/12/01/gIQA0s9LIO_story.html .

For examples from the University of Arizona School of Law, see http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/14/pet-therapy-students-stress-_n_1148705.html

And to see photos of Monty, the therapy dog at Yale Law School, where students can apparently check him out of the library, see http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/14/pet-therapy-students-stress-_n_1148705.html .

Dogs are also being used to aid victims, particularly children, in court. For example, Rosie the therapy dog helped a child rape victim during her testimony in New York. See, http://abcnews.go.com/US/service-dog-court-takes-witness-stand/story?id=13958418

All of this made me curious—is anyone using dogs to help in mediation? A quick google search led me to stories of dog disputes going to mediation (loud dogs, dog custody battles…etc.). But, those dogs were the subject of the mediations and not participants. It seems like it would be a good fit, with the right cases and the right parties, which would include making sure people aren’t allergic or afraid of dogs. If anyone knows of dogs helping out in mediations (or other dispute resolution processes), I would be very interested in learning about them.

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