Section 12-21-148

Use of certified facility dog in certain legal proceedings.

(a) For the purposes of this section, the following terms shall have the following meanings:

(1) CERTIFIED FACILITY DOG. A trained working dog that is a graduate of an assistance dog organization, a nonprofit organization that sets standards of training for the health, welfare, task work, and oversight for assistance dogs and their handlers, and shall have at a minimum all of the following:

a. Two years of training and must have passed the same public-access test as a service dog.

b. Documentation showing that the certified facility dog has graduated from an assistance dog organization.

c. A current annual certificate of health from an Alabama veterinarian.

d. Proof of liability insurance in the minimum amount of five hundred thousand dollars ($500,000).

(2) CERTIFIED HANDLER. A certified handler who has received training from an assistance dog organization and has received training on the protocols and policies of legal proceedings and the role of the certified facility dog and certified handler to assure there is no interference with the collection of evidence and testimony, or the administration of justice.

(b) In a legal proceeding, to reduce the stress of a witness and to enhance the ability of the court to obtain full and accurate testimony, the court may allow a certified facility dog to accompany a victim or witness while testifying, or in other court proceedings, if a certified facility dog is available.

(c) If the court, in its sole discretion, grants the use of a certified facility dog, and a jury has been empaneled in the legal proceeding, the certified facility dog shall be accompanied by the certified handler to the witness stand with the witness outside of the presence of the jury, and the certified handler shall return to his or her position in the courtroom within view of the witness stand. Subsequently the jury shall be seated and the court shall instruct the jury on the presence of the certified facility dog and that the presence of a certified facility dog should not create any prejudice to any party.

(d) During trial proceedings, all precautions should be taken to obscure the presence of the dog from the jury.

(e) Markings identifying the dog as a certified facility dog while working must be visible.

(f) Subject to the Alabama Rules of Criminal Procedure, if requested by either party in a legal proceeding, the court may examine and confirm the credentials of the certified facility dog and certified handler.

(g) Prior to the use of a certified facility dog in a court proceeding the state or moving party must file a notice of intent to use the registered therapy dog.

(Act 2017-413, §6.)