Now in its third year, the Comfort Dog program provides participating schools with rescue dogs identified by North Shore Animal League America to work directly with students and staff members for a variety of social and emotional benefits. Each dog is adopted by a designated staff member at each participating school, and all dogs take part in mandatory Pre-Canine for All training led by animal behavioral specialists.
Since their debut in City schools two years ago, comfort dogs have helped transform their schools into welcoming environments for students and staff members alike. Once they are adopted and trained, the dogs work in classroom and counseling settings to support students in various ways, including mandated and at-risk counseling needs. In addition, the dogs can also lend a helping paw with their schools’ crisis intervention and de-escalation practices.
“Whether it’s a reading buddy or a warm welcome on a hard day, comfort dogs have an impact on school communities, contributing to students’ academic and social-emotional well-being,” said Chancellor Richard A. Carranza when announcing this year’s expansion. “This is an exciting and innovative program, and I’m thrilled that we’re expanding it.”
By the end of the 2018–19 school year, the DOE’s Comfort Dog program will be in place at approximately 60 public schools across the five boroughs. Eight new dogs are currently participating in Pre-Canine for All training this fall, and approximately 15 more dogs will join City schools later this year.
This fall’s eight new Comfort Dog schools (and dogs) are:
- M.S. 88 (Bailey)
- Jonas Bronck Academy (Bailey)
- P.S. 209 (Harper)
- P.S. 79 (Parker)
- Pace High School (Coral)
- P.S. 81 (Cypress)
- P.S. 22 (Lady)
- P.S. 224 (Delight)
For more information about this year’s Comfort Dog program expansion, check out the DOE’s official press release.