Meet Rubix, Utah’s first-ever courthouse comfort dog

Posted at 5:54 PM, May 17, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-17 19:54:34-04

OGDEN, Utah -- Court is not a fun place to be.

To make it a little less cold and intimidating for children and other crime victims, the Weber County Attorney's Office has hired Rubix. A 3-year-old lab/golden retriever mix, she's Utah's first-ever courthouse comfort dog.

"Ruby," as she's called, works with victim advocate Jessica Willis to help children and vulnerable adults who are called as witnesses in court. They pet her and hug her as they talk about difficult situations.

Rubix, the Weber County Attorney's comfort dog. (Image by Doug Eldredge, FOX 13 News)

"She has the ability to go and sit in the witness box with child victims if they have to testify and would like her to be there," Willis told FOX 13.

Weber County Attorney Chris Allred said they learned about Canine Companions, a program that helps train dogs for use with courthouses.

"We thought, 'Why not?'" he said. "I really couldn't see any downside and so we though we should at least give it a try."

Ruby went through two years of training. Willis also had to be trained to work with her. Allred said the cost to keep Ruby is minimal, with a big benefit.

Ruby attends court hearings every week ranging from criminal cases to child welfare hearings. In order to use her,  attorneys have to file legal motions with the court.

"When kids have to talk about hard things they don't want to talk about, then Ruby's there and they can pet her and love on her while they talk and it seems to help open up," Willis said.

Ruby has fans in the courthouse. Bailiffs will try to sneak her snacks. Prosecutors will hug her and pet her after a hard day in court. Judges have even fallen in love with her.

"She charmed all the judges at the juvenile court within minutes!" laughed Willis. "They were like, 'Hey, we're just going to steal you every day.'"