Our very own Facility Dog, Winston has won gold at the annual RSPCA WA Animal Welfare Awards [link opens in a new window]. Winston has been specially trained by Guide Dogs WA to provide comfort to victims, witnesses and visitors to the Perth Children’s Court.
Winston was officially placed as a Facility Dog with the Perth Children’s Court [link opens in a new window] in October 2021. His presence and support to Western Australians dealing with the justice system has provided a range of benefits, including helping the court to run smoothly and efficiently.
Along with his handler who is also from Guide Dogs WA, Winston moves between the public and private waiting areas where people are able to interact with him if they wish.
“Winston is very intuitive at picking up when a child wants playful interaction or just a quiet cuddle with him. People attending the court actively seek him out during their waiting period, and legal and support service providers often call upon him for their clients,” says Kati Kraszlan, the Commissioner for Victims of Crime.
Guide Dogs WA, Chief Executive Officer Anna Presser says Winston attends the Perth Children’s Court several days per week and can also receive special requests for his support.
“We are so pleased to be able to provide a Facility Dog to the Perth Children’s Court and see the positive impact Winston is making to Western Australian court users,” Anna says.
Winston was recognised for his achievement alongside 11 winners in the gold tier across six categories at a special ceremony on World Animal Day on Tuesday 4 October.
Guide Dogs WA provides highly trained Facility Dogs that undertake specific, skilled tasks in a variety of different situations within a facility environment, this may be offices, courts, educational settings and many other places.
Facility Dogs can reduce stress and anxiety, improve speech and memory function and improve physical and mental wellbeing.