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Appeals court: Adults can’t bring support animals when testifying

Service dogs
Southwest Animal Care Center

An adult testifying in court in a criminal case cannot bring an emotional support animal to the stand.  The Michigan Court of Appeals made that ruling in a decision released Friday.

A woman filed a rape complaint against a male acquaintance who disputed her version of events. When the trial came, a judge allowed a support dog and a handler holding a leash to be with her when she testified. That was over the objection of the defense.

While courts have allowed support animals to accompany children and adults with developmental disabilities to the stand, there was no recorded instance of allowing that anywhere in the country in cases where a competent adult testified.

In a split decision, the appeals court said allowing the support dog on the stand with an adult called into question whether the jury reached an unbiased decision.

I’m Rick Pluta in Lansing