Welch Elementary first in state to receive therapy dog

Welch Elementary School gets new therapy dog
Welch Elementary School gets new therapy dog(WVVA)
Published: Apr. 8, 2022 at 6:56 PM EDT
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WELCH, W.Va. (WVVA) - Students and faculty at Welch Elementary School welcomed a one year-old service dog named Coal on Friday.

It came as a part of W.Va.’s “Friends with Paws” program. Welch Elementary was the first school in the state to receive a therapy dog through the program, which was spearheaded by W.Va. First Lady Cathy Justice.

“Children and students just cling to these dogs,” said Justice. “It’s just like at peace in the school. I mean there’s better attendance, better behavior, better grades. It’s just a plus for everything.”

Four different staff and faculty members at the school are trained to take care of Coal, including one teacher who said she’ll take him home with her daily.

“He’ll live with us full-time,” said Shannon Pace, teacher. “But we will actually fund-raise as a school to cover his cost of care.”

Some students are already excited to see how Coal can help them out while in school, “It can help you focus on your work, your tests,” said Greyson Pace, student. “I know a lot of kids get test anxiety, I get test anxiety a lot. So I think [the dog] would be a big help.”

A handful of other schools in the state are set to get a therapy dog as well. For now though, the focus is on schools with students disproportionately affected by poverty, substance misuse and other at-risk situations.

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