Canine Advocacy Program (CAP) founder and retired Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office Victim Services supervisor Daniel Cojanu was presented with WMU-Cooley Law School’s Integrity Award on March 21. WMU-Cooley presents the award to a member of the community who demonstrates a high level of integrity and has a positive influence on the legal profession.
After advocating for children for over 30 years in Oakland County, Cojanu heard about a program in Florida that used service dogs to help children involved in the criminal justice system. After talking with legal professionals, including judges in Oakland County, Cojanu founded CAP.
Pictured: WMU-Cooley Assistant Dean Lisa Halushka, Canine Advocacy therapy dog Lance, and Daniel Cojanu.
During his presentation, which was part of the law school’s Integrity in Our Communities speaker series, Cojanu explained how CAP uses therapy dogs to help children who testify in sexual assault cases. A CAP dog handler introduces the child to the dog before testifying and tells the child that they are the dog’s owner for the day. The dogs and their handler accompany the child into the witness box. Cojanu says that the presence of the dog comforts the child, and proves successful in helping the child testify.
"We have the best criminal justice system in the world, but not when it comes to kids. As a witness, we expect them to cope like adults. We don't make proper allowances for these kids,” said Cojanu. "I want kids to be able to testify, but it's about doing less harm, so even if they don't testify, but that kid comes out a little less victimized, that's what we're shooting for."