Basil takes the oath

Ingham Court Circuit Court swears in an emotional support dog

Canine's job is to assist survivors 'at their most vulnerable'


WEDNESDAY, May 15 — The Ingham County Circuit Court welcomed a new canine advocate today.

Chief Judge Joyce Draganchuk swore in Basil, a 2-year-old lab and golden retriever mix who will serve as an emotional support animal at the Veterans Memorial Courthouse, 313 W. Kalamazoo St., in Lansing.

“Today is a day, like every day, that I think we should celebrate and thank our four-legged friends — our friends who love us unconditionally and serve us in any capacity in which we ask them to,” Draganchuk said.

“Today, we have an extra special four-legged friend with us. That would be you, Basil,” she added to smiles and laughter from the audience.

In her new role, “Basil will support survivors when they are at their most vulnerable — when they have to come into this courtroom, take that witness stand, tell their truth and face their attackers,” Draganchuk said.

Basil is the second dog to fill the emotional support dog role for Ingham County, following Kory, who served for several years beginning in 2018. Basil's work will include assisting survivors of sexual assault and child abuse.

“Every survivor you support will be stronger and more healed with you by their side. I find you qualified under the law, and ready to take on this very important role,” Draganchuk said.

Ingham County Circuit Chief Judge Joyce Draganchuk swears in Basil as the court's victim support dog at a ceremony today.
Ingham County Circuit Chief Judge Joyce Draganchuk swears in Basil as the court's victim support dog at a ceremony today.

Finally, Draganchuk administered Basil’s oath of service: “Do you swear you will support victims of crime?”

Basil's tail wagged in approval, prompting a round of applause.

Raised by Amber and Alan Herman, a Union City couple that has volunteered with Leader Dogs for the Blind since 2015, Basil was initially trained to serve the visually impaired.

However, Basil took up a “new vocation” last year when she began  courtroom training with the Canine Advocacy Program in Pontiac, Alan Herman said.

Basil is the seventh dog to be raised by the Hermans for public service. Right after the ceremony, Basil came over to greet her old friends.

“There’s a tear with every one of the dogs we raise,” Alan Herman said. “But the way we describe it is like raising kids — you want them to be successful. It’s the same way with the puppies, too. You’re just proud to see them helping those who are in need.”

“Even though she changed careers out of Leader Dogs for the Blind,  she’s going to be able to still do service. That’s what I’m proud of,” he added.


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