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Governor and First Lady announce the next six therapy dogs to be placed throughout the state

West Virginia Press Association

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Gov. Justice and First Lady Cathy Justice have announced the next six therapy dogs that will be placed in Communities In Schools sites across West Virginia as part of the First Lady’s Friends With Paws initiative.

Adding these six dogs to Friends With Paws will bring the total number of therapy dogs placed in West Virginia through the program to 25.

“These therapy dogs will bring friendship, love, and support to their schools,” First Lady Justice said. “It’s incredible what benefits these dogs bring, not just for the students but for the whole faculty. I look forward to welcoming each one and seeing the amazing work that they do for our students.” 

First announced in March 2022, the Friends With Paws program places certified therapy dogs in various CIS schools across the state, providing companionship and comfort for students in need of a boost.

“Having witnessed the incredible impact of the Friends With Paws initiative throughout our state, I’m thrilled to announce its continued growth,” Gov. Justice said. “This initiative is more than just a program; it’s become a reason for our students to look forward to coming to school. These dogs are the true heroes and joy-bringers in our schools. These new additions will absolutely enhance the lives of the schools they become a part of.”

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 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. Friends With Paws dogs have also helped increase school attendance, as well as helping students to practice their reading skills with only the therapy dog and teacher present.  

The six new therapy dogs being placed are:

Clara, a female Golden Retriever – Brooke Middle School, Brooke County, February 28.

Parker, a male Golden Retriever – Wheeling Park High School, Ohio County, February 28.

Pixie, a female Labradoodle – Lewisburg Elementary School, Greenbrier County, Mid-March.

Captain, a male Golden Retriever – Sherman High School, Boone County, Mid-March.

Eli, a male Golden Retriever – Nutter Fort Primary School, Harrison County, Mid-April.

Prim, a female black Labrador Retriever – Davis-Thomas Elementary/Middle School, Tucker County, Mid-June.

Throughout the year, events will be held at various schools to officially welcome the next crop of therapy dogs.

More information about Friends With Paws can be found in Communities In Schools: Friends With Paws, a documentary produced by West Virginia Public Broadcasting. Click HERE to view the documentary.

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