A bite from a dog can have many ramifications. These can include the emotional impacts on the dog’s guardians, or the dog practicing an undesirable behavior, or even the potential fate of the dog. And of course in our litigious society, we often will see civil and even criminal ramifications when a dog inures a person or other animal.
For this episode of Fresh Bites on The Bitey End of the Dog, I chat with Melissa McMath Hatfield who is an expert on expert witness work in dog bite cases. Melissa does an excellent job of breaking down what can happen when a bite incident ends up in court, and what to expect from both the plaintiff and defendant sides.
For additional resources on helping dogs with aggression, visit:
Melissa McMath Hatfield, MS, CBCC-KA, CDBC, has combined her experience as a trial consultant and her passion for the human-canine relationship to develop and strengthen the canine-human relationship through understanding, knowledge, and empathy.
Hatfield earned a master’s degree in counseling psychology (1981) and is a retired Licensed Psychological Examiner. As owner of McMath Trial Consultants for 42 years, her area of specialization has been in jury selection, developing jury profiles, focus groups, case presentation, voir dire, and witness preparation. She has been published and presented to numerous state and national bar associations and is considered an expert in jury selection for both state and federal courts. She has participated in high-profile cases in both civil and criminal courts across the country.
Hatfield is a Certified Canine Behavior Consultant and a Professional Member of both the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC) and the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT). She has been published in the IAABC Journal, the APDT The Chronicle of the Dog, the Royal Spaniel, and the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel The Bulletin. Her articles have received numerous nominations in the Dog Writers Association of America’s writing competition. Relative to this presentation, she was published in the IAABC Journal, August 2017, “Witness for the Prosecution” and the APDT, Chronicle, Spring, 2018, “Witness for the Prosecution…Dog trainers, behaviorist may be called for expert testimony.” She presented a 2015 E-Training Webinar, “Identifying and Assessing Mental Health Issues in the Dog,” and “Attachment Scales as a Tool for Trainers, Shelters and Behavior Consultants,” at the APDT 2017 fall conference in Richmond Virginia.
Currently, Hatfield has a private practice in which her skills as a trial consultant and certified canine consultant can be combined to assist the professionals who find themselves in litigation. However, her primary focus is temperament assessments and behavior evaluations of dogs that are exhibiting mental health issues, such as anxiety, aggression, fear, and other behavior problems.
Hatfield lives in Fayetteville, Arkansas, with her very supportive husband, Dick, and two Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Haviland and Huntington, who is currently aspiring toward his AKC Championship. However, her love of dogs could not be summarized fully without mentioning her beloved first Cavaliers, Champions Truman, Princeton, and Stetson McMath. Oh, the bittersweet of the human-canine relationship!
For a list of her publications and further information, please go to:
Support the show
A bite from a dog can have serious ramifications. These can include the emotional impacts on the dogs, guardians, or the dog practicing an undesirable behavior, or even the potential fate of the dog. And of course in our litigious society, we often will see civil and even criminal ramifications when a dog injures a person or other animal. For this episode of fresh bites on the bitey end of the dog, I chat with Melissa McMath Hatfield, who is an expert on expert witness work in dog bite cases. Melissa does an excellent job of breaking down what can happen when a bite ends up in court, and what to expect from both the plaintiff and defendant sides. And if you are interested in hearing more about applicable tangible and immediate steps you can use with your own dog or in your cases, I just launched a subscription series called Help for dogs with aggression, which is an additional format to this podcast, where I'll walk you through a variety of aggression issues and how to solve them. You'll find a little subscribe button on Apple podcasts where the by the end of the dog is listed. Your support of the show is very much appreciated. Hey, everyone. My special guest this week is Melissa McMath Hatfield, who has combined her experience as a trial consultant and her passion for the human animal bond to develop and strengthen the canine human relationship through understanding, knowledge and empathy. She earned a master's degree in counseling psychology, and is a retired licensed psychological examiner. as owner of McMath trial consultants for 42 years. Her area of specialization has been in jury selection, developing jury profiles, focus groups, case presentation, voir, dear and witness preparation. She has been published and presented to numerous state and national bar associations, and is considered an expert in jury selection for both state and federal courts. She has participated in high profile cases in both civil and criminal courts across the country. So welcome to the show, Melissa. Thank you, Michael. And I'm impressed that you can say fly deer in Arkansas, its board our it's not definitely a term that we talk about in dog training often or even hear about. So that's what I'm really excited to be talking about in this show is that, you know, I've done some expert witness work and writing reports for different aggression cases. And it's really interesting for me, because it for me, it's always made me focus a lot more on what I say and making sure what I'm saying is backed up somewhere, because you have to be careful what you say. So I'd love to dive more into your background. And you know, kind of why you got into this work in the first place. Because let's face it, most of us start out as doctrines. We're gonna say we're working with dogs, I love to work with dogs, you don't think about I would love to work in court the courtroom or be an expert witness. So So what made you follow that path? Well, Michael, as you said, I could have combined two fields. I've been in jury consulting, trial consulting for almost 43 years. And a good portion of that is preparing witnesses for trial. And whether you're preparing for a capital murder case, an airplane falling out of the sky, or a dog aggression case, the fundamental rules are the same. But also every time I got a phone call as a trial consultant, it was always a tragedy, if you can imagine. And after 30 something years, I said I gotta do something different. What do I love, and that's dogs. That's when I found the new field called canine science. And a p d t, and Ay ay ay ay BC. And I was like a little kid at Christmas, I was so excited. I was so tired to deal with rapists, and murderers. And here I was with dogs. And my very first APDT conference was in San Diego, we went to San Diego Zoo. I just couldn't believe I was so excited. But as a natural combination of these trial skills, it has naturally evolved into helping people in combat in the dog world, because unfortunately, dog trainers, dog facilities, behavior consultants, are at risk of being sued. And I worry about that, because I do a lot of dog aggression cases. And from my legal background, you better bet I do not write down anything that I cannot back up with a third party authority. I don't make this stuff up in my reports, it is all backed up by third party authority. You can't just say, well, this seems to me or this feels like you have to have done your research. So it's a natural combination of my love for dogs. And then my trial experience. Absolutely. You know, you were saying some things there that when I was again, starting on my first expert witness case, I realized, boy I really better check what I'm saying because it kind of makes you go back into study and research. mode, you know, so I, you know, had to go dig through some of the signs and some of the research studies that were out there to back up what I was saying. So, so what kind of cases are you dealing with now and give us a kind of an idea of what that looks like if SARS the types of cases you might see in the dog behavior world or in the court trials, too? Well, unfortunately, I think the fear is being sued. It's not being the plaintiff, who is the complaining party who has been injured, although you might as a dog trainer, or a consultant be in that situation? I think the fear is, oh, my God, you know, you get the phone call, right. So I'm going to focus more on if you were the defendant. Now, the plaintiff only has to prove it's not beyond the shadow of the doubt, the plaintiff only has to prove 51%. Okay, so your as a defendant are going in pretty close to 5050. I mean, and the odds of you getting sued and going to court are slim, very slim. Now, there has been a rise in dog bite cases, I have a statistic here 2019, the average bike climb was for $43,653 was 17,856 claims. Now that's on the rise, but that's not a whole lot. So you may have somebody that's unhappy with you, that's going to sue you for whatever reason, but the odds of it going to trial are very slim. What happens is the very first thing after you've been sued, or okay, you're suing somebody else, is you're going to be deposed. And a deposition is a fact finding mission. And you have to be very careful, because it's done in an informal situation. And these lawyers goals are to get you to feel comfortable and relaxed. And to talk. Well, you have to remember that everything you say is going to be held against you. And that you're going to have to be able to handle a cross examination. For example, that's one reason why it's very important for your as a defendant to have, if you can't do it, get someone to do a temperament test on a standardized test, like safer, that's your third authoritative party. It's not you making this up that I don't think this dogs not aggressive. So they're very, very many different ways of doing it. But you've got to get the third party. And then you've got to know the difference between testifying and then going to court. But if you survive that through the deposition process, then you probably will settle most courts in most states. It's mandatory after the depositions that you try and settle, or you go to mediation, and most of your cases will end up there. It's rare that you land in the courtroom. So by the time I get called to go to the courtroom, that case has been filtered out through many, many steps. Hmm, interesting. So I think it'd be interesting for the show, if we walked through a specific type of case, maybe you can think of one year, you've had recently are you doing now that that you can use that as an example, can you give us one that maybe comes to top of mind, okay, this case, did not meet the filtering process. It did not go to court, it did not even make it to mediation, and it did not settle. But to me, it's a very common scenario, that more than likely, you as a professional are going to find yourself in. And I think it's going to be very common that it won't go through the mediation, that it will settle, and it won't go to court. But this was where two young ladies in their 30s graduate educated students with graduate degrees, they're sharp, they're intelligent, they're articulate, they're sophisticated. They're walking in a wealthy neighborhood. All of these variables that I'm talking about makes a difference in the claims that the insurance policies are going to Write Right. But they're walking in a wealthy neighborhood one has a very expensive Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. And one has a very expensive standard poodle puppy, and they see out of the corner there are two great big dogs that are loose, and the dogs take a beat on them, you know, that first stance of that prey drive, and then they took off like a bat out of hell and they crossed four lanes of traffic and went to an immediate kill bite on the little Cavalier. Do you know your worst nightmare these two girls and these two puppies and they can't get these dogs off of them? We've all seen like I took Mike's master and aggression course. We've seen videos you've shown videos Mike for you. The policeman I'll never forget it was beating the dog on the back with his club and the dog never let go Oh, but because of the rules, the laws in Texas, they could not file a lawsuit. Now, you can't ask me that I'm not a lawyer, I can't tell you why. But it's a very common scenario, you're minding your own business. Next thing, you know, these dogs are out, or I have a lawyer called last week, he has a client that has a dog aggression case, he wants to understand dog behavior in general, and aggression in general. So in that particular case, you're just talking about with the two girls walking their puppies, you sometimes will get called in to write a report, right. And so that's part of the work, as you know, in if you're going to be doing expert witness work is report writing, which is time consuming, right? Unless you have a lot of experience with it. But even then you really want to make sure what you're putting in that report is backed up again, what we're just talking about, but for that particular incident, how did you go about, you know, again, if we're focusing on one particular that particular case, as an example, how would you go about gathering information for that particular report? Well, all of you all know that term functional analysis, right? You have to do a complete functional analysis, you have to have the medical report, you have to do the social behavior. Well, you can't do the social behavior of the plaintiff, because they're not gonna let you have access to the dogs. But you get the, you know, your ABCs, what were the triggers? What were your feelings? What were your thoughts, the eyewitness reports, there were two eyewitnesses there, I wanted to witness reports, I wanted to Police Report, the police were called, I want the animal control report, because Animal Control was called. And then I hired someone to do the temperament assessment, which would be a third party authoritative document, and talk to anybody, any professional that has had access to these dogs, the vet, the groomer, the neighbors, and you can write those in your report, that'd be very important. So you've got to do your ABCs, you have to know past history, the training at the type of training, the dog has had his relationship with the humans, all of that, see, I cannot get, but I can have my lawyer, ask those questions during deposition, he can get that information. And what I'm thinking here is that wouldn't it be nice if we had that kind of information for all our behavior cases as behavior consultants or trainers, right? Because it gives us such a robust amount of information and data sometimes in a case when we're trying to figure out what's going on or what happened. And, you know, certainly when I was working a case was a few years back, you know, I had so much useful information about how to determine what happened for that particular bite incident. And I was thinking, it would really be very helpful if we had all of this information for, you know, standard behavior cases that aren't going into court. Right. So great to interview victims, and, and the plaintiffs or, you know, even other parties involved. So, yeah, and so in that regard, so you got a report written, right. And you and that's one of the initial steps in these cases is the courts will ask for a report or the attorney will ask for a report, which is basically detailing your findings and what might have happened. Have you been ever called to testify in that regard? What kind of witnesses or what kind of work is that entail? When you are actually going past the report? Now you're saying, Okay, we're going to take this to trial, or we're going to go to the next steps? Can you describe that a little bit for for us? Well, if you were called as an I would be called as an expert witness in that situation. And there are many different kinds of witnesses. You have your eye witness, you have your child witness, you have the plaintiff as a witness, the defendant who's defending himself as a witness, but the expert witness has different rules. And remember, we talked about that it didn't make any difference what kind of case but the expert has different rules, you would be deposed. And that's where it's very important, do not volunteer information. This is not the time to explain your opinions and your theories freely. Now, that lawyer, the way I tell my experts is, he's being paid a lot of money. And so I'm going to make him earn every word out of my mouth. I am not going to give him the farm. I'm not going to be argumentative. I'm not going to be defensive. I'm not going to hesitate. I'm going to be very succinct, and let him work for the next question, which means he's got to work for the next answer. Now as the expert witness in court, I can't do that. That's the time to really talk about my opinion. Why I have it. What my prognosis is, why is that what did I base it on? That's the time to let it go tell your story. And you also do a lot of work with helping plaintiffs and defendants. So you don't always just work one side of these cases, you've kind of worked every angle of these cases. So we had been mentioning or talking about, right before we took the break the different aspects, because sometimes we're thinking about defending, you know, working on the defendants side, so that dog just bit somebody, and they're getting sued, or the plaintiff side, maybe it's a dog bite victim. And, Melissa, you've worked with both sides of the equation. So can you talk more about, let's say how you would help the plaintiff side first, and then we'll jump into the defendant side, okay, if I were going to help a plaintiff testify, we have to remember several things. First of all, they're probably scared to death, they're probably upset, we've got a lot of emotions going on. So I want to make sure that we have trust and rapport and that they're listening. So I would have made sure that we would have had developed a relationship before just a trial preparation, then the lawyer would have called the plaintiff to his office, remember, we've already been deposed. We went through mediation, we didn't settle. So here we are, he will practice a direct and cross examination. And I will tell them, the most important thing you have to remember is that these lawyers really do not know you as the plaintiff, we're the only ones in this courtroom that was at that event, you were the only one that experienced those emotions. Do not let these lawyers rattle your chain, or reduce your confidence or you backtrack or put words in your mouth. Just that fact has helped plaintiffs remember that fact? The other thing is that lawyers are very good about asking two questions in one. So of course, the obvious answer one would be really good for you. And the one would be really bad for you. And he's going to ask you and the yes or no. So you're, you're caught either way. So you have to listen very carefully and say, Mr. Lawyer, I'd be happy to answer that question. But let's take the first question first, and then answered. Very interesting. Can you think of an example of where that particular question came up, or we had a coach where one would be, this is where two dogs got loose, and they were all screaming the neighbors were screaming that these dogs were dangerous. And I interviewed the trainer, the that the groomer, the neighbors, etc. Nobody said those dogs were dangerous, did a temperament assessment, they were lovely dogs, we still went to trial. So the lawyer asked to me, we can't be sure that these dogs will be safe. If they ever got out again, can we? Well, of course, the only answer that is now No, nobody knows. Right? And as a witness, you're gonna say, Well, I don't want to answer that. I don't want to give him that. But now, if you're an expert, of course, obviously answer's no, we cannot be sure how ever and then you can go and backup your opinion. Or if he shuts you off, which he probably will do. Don't worry about it. Because your lawyer will get up and do a redirect, I call a redirect is cleaning up any messes you have made. So if you've made a mess, don't worry about it, your lawyer will get back up and clean it up on redirect. That's very good advice. Because again, it's something that we don't think about when we're getting into this. We hope we never get into this situation. But it's one of the really important aspects. If you do get into situations. It's very, very excellent advice there. What about now, if we flip around to the other side, the defendant side? And And can you give a similar example there? And also some of the work you do when coaching defendants? Yes, well, the first thing you cannot do, that you can't if it's in a criminal case, you know, be guilty or not. But in a civil case, whether you're responsible party for these dogs or not, are whether you felt like the dogs were dangerous or not, or whether you felt like the plaintiff didn't contribute to the injury, you know, like teasing the dog or whatever. It still is very important. You're going to have a tendency to be defensive. You know, my dogs didn't do that. We had a couple that kept saying My dogs are not aggressive. They were y'all were the ones that racked and ugly. Y'all scared the dogs, our dogs are fine. So you're going to be defensive, and there is nothing that will get you in trouble faster with the opposing attorney. Then three things being defensive, argumentative, or a hazard hesitating on an answer. And the reason why you hesitate because you don't want to give it to him because it's going to help his side. So if you remember that lawyer will redirect and clean that up. That's fine. So now we just have to work on two things. Do not be argumentative. Do not be defensive. The only thing that comes out of your mouth is Yes, sir. And no, sir. I don't remember. Please clarify. Those are perfectly acceptable answers. More good advice? You know, it's the things again, do you don't think about when you're when you're getting into this line of work? So what about now we kind of covered the defendants angles of how you coach them. But what about anybody that's listening in that is considering expert witness work, or they have a lot of experience with a particular type of behavior, aggression, or something like that, and they want to prepare as an expert witness? Any advice for anybody that's going to try to? Or they get called on to be an expert witness? Or maybe they're just starting out with this? I think that's an excellent question, Michael, let me think about that, I think the most important thing I would tell you is, you've got to have that third party authoritative document, you will get eaten up and spit out. If you don't have that. If you can base that on your temperament test that standardized, if you can base it on observations of professionals, courts, it doesn't hurt to have the neighbor. In other words, not what you're thinking, we're not interested, those lawyers are not really interested in your opinion. So if you focus on what kind of concrete hard data, can I give these people, you'll be safe in that courtroom, you won't get slaughtered. And you'll be comfortable and confident. So backing up, what you're saying, again, is the general theme of all of this work. So if we were going to go back, jump back to that case that you had mentioned earlier on in the show where you know, the two girls were walking with their puppies. And let's say that case did go to trial, and you're called in as the expert witness. What are some what would be something for instance, you would prepare for that? Let's say you were working on the let's let's go with the defendant side, right. So you're working with it the dogs owners that the you know, and let's say that the attorney starts asking you all kinds of questions. Would there be something that comes to mind in that kind of case, you know, what you would start to prepare for ahead of time in with regards to the dog's behavior? Yes, what I would do is I would make sure, alright, the owners in that case said, You scared the dogs, which we had eyewitness testimony that said they didn't. But regardless, The defendant says, My dogs were frightened. They've never done this again. excetera. So I would say, if you're my client, then I want to have a lot of hands on with these dogs. I want to do an aggression evaluation. I want to do a temperament assessment. I want to come back next Monday, I want to come back next Sunday. I want to be able to look those lawyers and that judge in the eye and say, Sir, my hands have been on these dogs. I have taken these dogs to lows, I felt confident enough to do that. In other words, the bottom line is the judge the Fact Finder, what he wants to know, are these dogs safe. That's really all this man wants to know. So if I can show them examples, I'm the defense, the insurance companies paying my fee. I've got to be able to show this judge the fact finder or the jury how these dogs are safe and why these dogs are sight. And I can read the accident report police report medical report interviews, but if my hands have not been on those dogs, I don't think now you have to do that. Do you also add in additional studies or research in your reports and in when you're referencing it in your testimony, research paper time and main research paper time and my lawyer has it. You just have to do it. So the next step usually is when you're preparing for your testimony, right? And you've got these both direct and cross examination that can happen. Can you walk us through a little bit that maybe again, referencing that case with the two girls walking their Cavalier King Charles, if you were to prepare for direct and cross examination from the defendant side, and maybe even talk about the plaintiff side, if you want? Well, from the plaintiff side, I would talk about the emotions that the girls felt the animal control. I don't know if it's Animal Control Law. I'm not a lawyer, or if it was the state law, it said that the plaintiff had to feel that they were in grave danger or did not have to be an actual attack. They felt they were in grave danger. So that's where I would focus from the defense I would focus on there are too many eyewitnesses that say, the girls did not talk them. So I would have to go back to the socialization of the dogs and see if they have been socialized what their prior history was. If they prior history is good boy, we have no history, then I'd focus on their socialization. Do you see a lot of where it comes down to provocation in these cases? Because that's something I see a lot when we're talking about, especially with animal control officers, and, you know, folks in that area of the of our community, we hear about the level of provocation where the dog is provoked or not provoked, and that becoming, you know, a whole argument in its own, but do you see a lot of that? Absolutely, Mike, that is, it's like, instead of being innocent till proven guilty, the plaintiff is guilty till proven innocent. What did you do? What should you have done? What should you not have done? Well, you were running and screaming, and you know, the dog had a prey drive attack, or the jury goes immediately to the responsibility of the planet? Well, that's not the law, the law is, it's on the defense. So I was thinking about, you know, going back to our case of the two girls, if there was, you were working on the plaintiff side, and they were talking about provocation, or in this case, maybe lack of provocation? How would you address that? Or would you, you know, how would you actually prepare your testimony? If you were to be asked that question, you know, Melissa, do you think these dogs were provoked in any way? Oh, well, we would use what in what we do in a lot of our training, one of the key things, you know, we talk about duration, intensity and distance, correct? Well, I would start with the distance of these dogs, when they were first sighted, they were very far away, they had to jump through hoops and gates, and cross four lanes of traffic to get to those girls. So I think the odds of those girls provoking them are slim to none. Now with a little Cavalier was, you know, red flag to a bull, that little white looks like a bunny rabbit. And so that's probably the trigger. But I would start with the distance. And so I think you were maybe focusing on testifying for the defendant, right. So if you're saying there's no provocation, you be kind of talking before the defendant side, correct. But there was no provocation, I would be talking for the girls, I would say we did not provoke them, those dogs are so far away, that there's no way that we provoked them. So if that was brought up, that's what I would say, because of the distance. And you know, we want to look at distance, intensity and frequency in behavior. And sometimes that can help. Yes, absolutely. Any other advice for preparing for testimony again, from the director, cross examination side of things? Well, when you're on a cross examination, whatever you do, you know, we talked about Don't be argumentative or defensive. Whatever you do, don't look at your attorney for help. Because that makes you look very weak and vulnerable. And it's natural. When you get hit, they start closing in for the kill. And it's a natural reaction to just glance over at your attorney. Do not do that you stay focused on the man asking you questions. Okay. You might have to as an expert be asked hypothetical questions. They can't ask hypothetical questions to any other witnesses, but they can ask hypotheticals for expert, so you better be prepared. The hypothetical question I got asked was, but Mrs. Hatfield, we can't be sure that these dogs would not be safe. When they get out. That's a hypothetical. Then you would answer it, and then let the other attorney or your attorney redirect, right. Correct. Yeah, I'm learning my language. Here you go. And I would answer it very quickly, very confidently. And I'd say Yes, sir. You're absolutely correct. There are no guarantees. And I'd give it to him, you just give it to him don't fighting because guess what, you're gonna have to give it to him sooner or later. So you might as well answer it with confidence. So you're good. Now we've walked through some of the steps of preparing, learning about what you need to do some of them some initial tips about you know, if you're on the stand, or you're being deposed? What about on the day, you have to go to trial, you're going to court. So we're going past again, the steps of the initial settling out of court now it's going to trial, that day that you show up as the expert witness, what are your recommendations there for anybody getting into this work? Okay. You need to know how this process works. Once you get out of your car, you're not allowed to talk to anybody. I mean, you don't even say good morning. I had been hauled into a judge's chambers, because my assistant said good morning to somebody who was walking past her. I mean, they are dead serious. So if you are an expert, you just pay close attention to the ground. You get out keep your head down, stay lay low. Why don't you can't even say hello in the elevator. Again, I had somebody say hello in the elevator, we get hauled back into the judge's chambers. That is absolutely no fun. So you just keep to yourself, and then you walk in the bailiff will be there, and you tell him what side you're on. And he will put you in a witness room. And there you will sit and sit and sit. So you have to make sure you have your coffee or snacks, water book, whatever, and you will be in there, probably by yourself. But now you can have a friend come to the courtroom and watch you testify. If you need, you know, a support group, that's fine, they cannot go in the witness room with you. But they can go in the courtroom. Of course, that was pre COVID. Now they, they were not letting anybody in there. So we've been talking about a lot of interesting variables in these as being an expert witness. And thus far somebody listening in might be like this does this not sound like fun, you know, not talking to anybody doing all this research, we're in about cross examination. So what makes you get up and want to do this every day. And for so long? You've been doing it in many different cases. And for many years, what makes you get up in the morning, say, This is what I want to do? Well, I have to say, that's why I got into the dogs. Other was so hard and so unpleasant. But what I do is I say a little prayer. And I say please help me help this person through this process. Because I can't imagine how scary that would be. And I'm an expert. Now, I do want to say one thing when you are, let's say you've been to the witness room, and the bailiff gets you and you go sit in the witness box in the courtroom. And your lawyer will qualify you as an expert. You'll go over your license certifications, publications experience, blah, blah, blah, blah. The other lawyer will get up he has two choices. He can say Yes, Your Honor. We accept Miss Hatfield as an expert judge goes fine hits the gavel, we're done. Or more than likely, the opposing attorney will get up and say, Now wait, just a minute, Ms. Hatfield. And then here we go down that road. And it's not unusual for the judge to ask you questions. And when he does, it's perfectly alright to turn and look at the judge. And then turn back and look at your lawyer or the one who's asking your questions. It is up to the judge to qualify you as an expert. You don't have to be an MD, Yvette a PhD, the judge can decide if you are an expert. If you are admitted as an expert witness, then the direct examination will begin. But it's not pleasant. I love dogs. And I thought, Oh, this will be great. I'll get out from under all of this. And now here I am again. But my experience does help me have a confidence level. Yeah, it sounds like you got into this side of working things, because of the same reason many of us get into dog training in general is to help the people in the dogs help the people in the dogs. And I have to remind myself, I get I'm doing a lot of private consults. And I'll get a client, you know, you can screen really quickly. If this is going to be a problem client and ad client, a client that doesn't listen to Yes, but client, you know, they're all these categories. And I'm screening them because I'm too long in the tooth to handle everybody that comes in the door. But I do try to keep in mind, I'm helping the dog and helping the people help these dogs. And in that regard, when it comes to helping the owners, the victims are finding closure. Do you have any words of wisdom there? Well, if you were the plaintiff, words of wisdom, whether it's Win, lose or draw, if you lose, you have to remember you were the one that was there and your feelings and emotions must not be discounted, or rationalized. If you've had a tragedy, ie the plaintiff, or you lost a dog or a child was bid therapy. I mean, I've had a lot of clients that have had to go to therapy, for good reason. And I will certainly link those resources in the show notes as well. We've had that topic come up in several other episodes in the trauma and the need for mental health resources and especially in dog bite cases. So what these two girls who were very sophisticated educated women that have been around dogs all their lives, one of the girl's father was a vet. I mean, they were traumatized. Well, sure they were I mean that big dog came did kill bite on our little Cavalier puppy. That is traumatic. You know, life was fine. They were taking a lovely walk on a beautiful sunny day. Night you have to have therapy. Absolutely. It's it's extremely traumatic in so many Ways when you know, we're hardwired as humans to be worried about things with teeth, right? And then you compound that with the social situation of it, you know, and the all the attention that these bite incidents can have. It really can be impactful. So I really appreciate you taking the time today to talk about your experience in this where can people find you if they want to learn more about this kind of work, man, trial consultants, www dot McMath crop consultants.com. I'm not as published as much in that field anymore. As I am in Canaan science field, I'm publishing and presenting more in that field. But I'd be happy to answer any questions, anybody who's interested. Now you have two kinds of people that are going to be expert witnesses, Michael, the one that really wants to do this. And the one that really does not want to do this, you know, I did not plan on doing this. I'm just this because my dog client, and now here I am, or you have the person who wants to explore this field. So you have two different motivations, two different perspectives, but I'm happy to help you know, their ago. Again, if I can help somebody get through this process, I'd be very happy to do it. Well, I certainly appreciate that. And I'm sure many of the listeners will be reaching out to you. So Melissa, thank you again for joining us on this episode, and I hope to see you again in the future. Thank you, Michael. I enjoyed it thoroughly. What a wonderful way to wrap up season three of the by the end of the dog, Melissa has such deep knowledge about the inner workings of what happens in a dog bite case. And I hope you had some nice takeaways from this episode. I look forward to continuing to add content to the Help for dogs with aggression subscription series of the by the end of the dog, as well as launching Season Four with more exciting and insightful guests. Thank you for your support of the show and for tuning in and most of all, thank you for caring for the dogs on our planet. Stay well my friends I'm impressed that you can say fly deer in Arkansas border