Greenbrier East High School chosen to receive Friends with Paws therapy dog

Greenbrier East High School chosen for next round of Friends With Paws Program
Greenbrier East High School chosen for next round of Friends With Paws Program(WVVA)
Published: Aug. 19, 2022 at 2:53 PM EDT
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LEWISBURG, W.Va. (WVVA) - Through First Lady Cathy Justice’s Friends With Paws program, an initiative through Communities in Schools (CIS), West Virginia schools have been able to use a non-traditional approach to connect with students.

On Thursday, August 18, it was announced that Greenbrier East High School is among the next seven schools to receive a certified therapy dog.

“It’s a wonderful school,” First Lady Justice said of Greenbrier East. “We’ve spoken with a couple of the teachers, the superintendent. Teachers here that are taking the dogs are in Special Ed, so it’s just going to be really good. We all have needs for these dogs, and just the entire school will benefit from this.”

Ben Routson, Head Principal for Greenbrier East, believes Marshal, a cream and white Labradoodle, will be a big help to all his students.

“I’m very excited and very grateful that we have this opportunity. You know, I think it’s a wonderful opportunity for our students, and that’s what we are here for. Our hopes and goals are that it will ease, you know, some of the social isolation of some students. It will help the student relax and, hopefully, make students feel more comfortable.”

During Thursday’s press conference, it was shared that the dogs already placed in schools have been helping students to reduce anxiety and increase attendance. Three dogs have already been placed in schools. This includes Coal, the state’s first therapy dog, assigned to Welch Elementary School earlier this year.

Gov. Jim Justice says, in today’s world, children need all the help they can get, especially when it comes to their education.

“Today, you’ve got hunger, and you’ve got kids that don’t have clothes and absolutely every challenge that you could possibly imagine,” he said. “When I was growing up, you know, there wasn’t any challenges compared to today. There wasn’t any social media. There wasn’t all this crazy bullying and everything else that goes with it...”

Greenbrier East and the other six schools chosen in this round will receive their dogs in September. Once these dogs are placed in their schools, Friends With Paws will have achieved its initial goal of placing ten dogs in schools across the state. Ten more dogs will be placed in 2023.

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