LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Lubbock ISD decided to celebrate National Animal Therapy Day by having teachers bring some of their own pets to school for the district’s own therapy dog program.
Several teachers were honored in an award ceremony for outstanding participation in the program that’s been on campuses for four years.
Counselor Elizabeth Burns says 16 certified furry friends roam the campuses that serve 28,000 students. Fifteen other dogs are waiting to be certified. The dogs walk alongside their handlers, who are teachers on those campuses. They call themselves the “Mutley Crew”.
Kami Finger, Executive Director of Special Services, says the dogs come handy for all students, including the special services students.
“These animals are able to come in and connect with the students expeditiously to either de escalate them, comfort them, bring them something emotionally, that sometimes we’re just not able to,” Finger said.
Teachers get their dogs trained by the school district’s trainer, pay for their own insurance, and share their loved pets with students to increase social, emotional, and even academic health at school. It reminds them that the school cares, and it brings value to their everyday.”
Burns says the dogs don’t just help out with the day-to-day, but also during crises.
“Perhaps we’ve had a death related to something in a campus or when they had the shooting in Odessa a year and a half ago, things like that. When kids get with the dogs, in about 45 seconds, those kids are on the ground loving on those dogs rolling all over the floor with them.”
Burns says events will be hosted over the summer to train the dogs in case of emergencies at school, figuring out the roles of the dogs during events like lockdowns.