skip to main content

H.R. 5403 (116th): Courthouse Dogs Act

Call or Write Congress

About the bill

Who let the dogs out? A bipartisan group of senators.


At least eight states allow dogs in courtrooms, to ease witnesses while on the stand, particularly during the recounting of traumatic testimony such as child abuse or sexual abuse.

But not everyone agrees with the practice. In a first, a New York state lawyer in 2011 appealed his client’s rape conviction on the grounds that the alleged victim was accompanied by a comfort dog while giving her testimony, biasing the jury. The court ultimately disagreed, upholding the original decision, but the issue was thrust into the spotlight.

What the legislation does

The Courthouse Dogs Act would clarify that federal courts can allow licensed therapy dogs or “certified facility dogs” on the premises.

The dog must be accompanied by …

Sponsor and status

Mary Scanlon

Sponsor. Representative for Pennsylvania's 5th congressional district. Democrat.

Read Text »
Last Updated: Dec 11, 2019
Length: 4 pages
Dec 11, 2019
116th Congress (2019–2021)
Died in a previous Congress

This bill was introduced on December 11, 2019, in a previous session of Congress, but it did not receive a vote.

Although this bill was not enacted, its provisions could have become law by being included in another bill. It is common for legislative text to be introduced concurrently in multiple bills (called companion bills), re-introduced in subsequent sessions of Congress in new bills, or added to larger bills (sometimes called omnibus bills).


6 Cosponsors (4 Democrats, 2 Republicans)

See Instead

S. 1029 (same title)
Passed Senate (House next) — Dec 19, 2019


Position statements

What stakeholders are saying

Comfort Creatures of Northeast Mississippi Our volunteer group, Comfort Creatures of Northeast Mississippi, is anxious to see H.R. 5403: Courthouse Dogs Act applied to all 50 states. We have experienced the benefits that therapy dogs offer to hurting people. Bringing comfort and smiles, we work at …


Dec 11, 2019

Bills and resolutions are referred to committees which debate the bill before possibly sending it on to the whole chamber.

H.R. 5403 (116th) was a bill in the United States Congress.

A bill must be passed by both the House and Senate in identical form and then be signed by the President to become law.

Bills numbers restart every two years. That means there are other bills with the number H.R. 5403. This is the one from the 116th Congress.

This bill was introduced in the 116th Congress, which met from Jan 3, 2019 to Jan 3, 2021. Legislation not passed by the end of a Congress is cleared from the books.

How to cite this information.

We recommend the following MLA-formatted citation when using the information you see here in academic work:

“H.R. 5403 — 116th Congress: Courthouse Dogs Act.” 2019. August 17, 2022 <>

Where is this information from?

GovTrack automatically collects legislative information from a variety of governmental and non-governmental sources. This page is sourced primarily from, the official portal of the United States Congress. is generally updated one day after events occur, and so legislative activity shown here may be one day behind. Data via the congress project.