After a pilot program putting therapy dogs in classrooms was deemed successful, the Department of Education in New York City has decided to expand it to include additional schools.
Last year, seven New York schools partnered with animal rescue group North Shore Animal League to bring trained dogs into the classroom to help comfort students, provide support to staff and defuse tense situations with kids. Because of the feedback from students and teachers, the program got the green light to expand this coming year.
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“I’m so excited to be bringing comfort dogs to over 30 additional schools,” Chancellor Carmen Fariña told the NY Post. “These dogs comfort both students and staff, help to de-escalate issues and even provide bereavement support.”
To be part of the program, a staff must commit to adopt the therapy dog, who is trained and screened before entering a school, and then apply to be part of the program.
The program is part of bigger initiative to help improve the school environment and its mission is to provide “social and emotional competence, academic achievement, and awareness of the needs of shelter pets,” Holness said.
“Having these dogs has encouraged students to socialize and build stronger relationships . . . there’s no question that the dogs are making a major impact,” Farina told the outlet.