Therapy Dogs Jasper and Foster meet Babydog

Seven more schools to receive Friends With Paws therapy dogs for fall 2022

CHARLESTON, WV – Gov. Jim Justice and First Lady Cathy Justice today announced the next seven schools that will receive certified therapy dogs as a part of the First Lady’s Friends With Paws initiative.

“Bringing these seven additional dogs into our Friends With Paws therapy dog program will greatly enhance our Communities In Schools initiative,” First Lady Cathy Justice said. “I am getting a lot of positive feedback from schools’ staff about how our dogs are benefiting students by alleviating anxiety and improving attendance. We’re looking forward to future pup rallies, and I’d like to invite members of the local communities receiving these dogs to come and help celebrate!”

The seven new schools for Fall 2022 are:

  • Pineville Elementary School, Wyoming County, will receive a male Yellow Labrador named River.
  • Moorefield Elementary School, Hardy County, will receive a male Black Labrador named Shadow.
  • Spring Mills High School, Berkeley County, will receive a male Yellow Labrador named Jet.
  • Wayne Elementary School, Wayne County, will receive a female Apricot Labradoodle named Emily.
  • Lenore Elementary School, Mingo County, will receive a male Black Labrador named Kylo.
  • Green Bank Elementary-Middle School, Pocahontas County, will receive a female Yellow Labrador named Kasha.
  • Greenbrier East High School, Greenbrier County, will receive a male Cream/White Labradoodle named Marshal.

The addition of the seven dogs to Friends With Paws will achieve the initial goal of the program; placing ten certified therapy dogs in schools across West Virginia by the end of this year.

In 2023, Friends With Paws also plans to place ten additional dogs in CIS schools in West Virginia.

First announced in March, the Friends With Paws program places certified therapy dogs in CIS schools across the state, providing companionship and comfort for students in need of a boost.

The Friends With Paws Program is a partnership between the Governor’s Office, West Virginia Communities In Schools (CIS) Nonprofit, and the West Virginia Department of Education.

Therapy dogs are placed in schools within CIS counties where students are disproportionately affected by poverty, substance misuse, or other at-risk situations, and are in the greatest need of a support animal. The dogs serve as a healthy and friendly outlet for these students to address trauma and other social-emotional issues.

Dogs placed earlier this year include:

  • Coal, a male Black Labrador, at Welch Elementary, McDowell County
  • Foster, a male Golden Labradoodle, at Buckhannon Academy Elementary, Upshur County
  • Jasper, a female Yellow Labrador, at Lewis County High School, Lewis County

Representatives from the three current Friends With Paws schools were also on hand for the ceremony today as were two therapy dogs. The representatives shared stories about the impact the certified therapy dogs have had on the students at their schools.

“Having Coal at our school has brought a sense of peace and calm,” said Shannon Pace, CIS Site Coordinator at Welch Elementary School and Primary Handler of Coal. “His presence is comforting and welcoming to both students, staff, and families. He has helped bridge the gap that Covid created two years ago.”

“The pandemic has brought new opportunities for thinking outside the traditional methods of dealing with the challenges of stress and anxiety that our students and employees face,” said Upshur County Schools Superintendent Dr. Sara Lewis-Stankus. “Our Governor and First Lady exemplify the necessity to go beyond the traditional methods of addressing students’ needs. We appreciate the Governor and First Lady’s gift of our therapy dog, Foster. Foster is a gift that will keep on giving to the students of Upshur County! He has made such a difference at Buckhannon Academy-Elementary School. The staff and students look forward to their time with Foster. He is always ready to listen, ready to love, and ready to give us a friendly doggy kiss.”

Krista Sappey, Buckhannon Academy-Elementary CIS Site Coordinator and Secondary Handler of Foster and Sarah Linger, Lewis County High School CIS Site Coordinator and Primary Handler of Jasper were also in attendance.

Throughout the fall, events will be held at each new school to officially welcome the new therapy dogs. Additional details will be shared at a later date.

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