At the court in Montpellier, the Labrador Rancho, who was already present at the trial of the Millas drama, comes to Sylvie’s aid

This legal assistance dog from the Gard firefighters is there to help claimants, victims or defendants better cope with the trials of criminal proceedings. For the first time he intervened on Thursday 19 October in Hérault.

In September he was in Marseille, with the bus driver tried for Milla’s terrible accident. This Wednesday, October 19, in Montpellier, Rancho, the Gard firefighters legal aid dog is on the other side of the bar, at the feet of a victim. For several months, this three-year-old American Labrador has accompanied plaintiffs in this very special moment, which is the criminal hearing.

He regularly intervenes in court in Nîmes

“When the person starts sending out negative emotions, the dog will feel it, ask him for caresses, pay attention. He is a comfort dog, of empathy” explains police officer Jérôme Lapp. “In Montpellier it is the first time, but he regularly intervenes in the court in Nîmes”.

Sexual assault by the cook

In front of the court in Montpellier, Rancho meets Sylvie, a young mentally defective woman, victim of sexual abuse for many years, in the establishment of help through work (Esat) in Hérault, where she works as a cook. The chef, who recognized these many inappropriate gestures, was cleared at the hearing. Caresses, hugs: Sylvie holds on to Rancho’s leash as she enters court with her lawyer, Me Pëchevis. He lies at her feet, in front of the bench of the bourgeois party, she has her head down and only looks at him.

A concept imported from the USA

“Today we have an assistance dog which in no way intervenes in the court’s decision. It is simply a psychological aid to help people through the trials of the criminal case, but it is completely neutral.” states presiding judge Frédéric Almendros. In 2019, while he was a prosecutor in Cahors, the judge fought to introduce the first legal assistance dog, a concept imported from the United States.

Rancho falls asleep at Sylvie’s feet

At the helm, chef Frédéric answers questions while the president describes the alleged facts. The room is full, it’s hot, the weather is stretching. Sylvie is crying on her bench. Rancho, on the other hand, has his muzzle resting on his feet, but seems… asleep. His master wakes him, he straightens up, she caresses him, he goes back to bed.

After the break and a bowl of water, Rancho transforms. He stands facing Sylvie, wagging his tail and resting his muzzle on her knee. “He was very busy this morning and this afternoon he was clearly not at work. Usually when the person is crying he turns to her, sometimes he just stands up to her.” notes Warrant Officer Llap. “But Sylvie seems glad to have had him with her this afternoon.”

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