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Facility Dog Program


What is the Goal of the Facility Dog Program?

The goal of the Facility Dog program is to support students that may be experiencing a barrier to learning (e.g., anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, Autism, English as a Second Language, Intellectual Difficulties, and more mild forms of mental health issues) within the educational setting. The goal is to lessen their stress and anxiety during activities occurring during the school day. With decreased anxiety, students may be able to focus and engage in classes better, feel more comfortable to open up to counselors and teachers, and find comfort and connection within the school environment. In doing so,  this will potentially improve overall feelings and allow for more effective progression through the learning process.

Why Facility Dogs?

Facility dogs provide an immediate, tangible option to support students and staff to remove barriers to education. Facility dogs help to create positive physical, mental health, and social benefits.

Facility dogs provide the following benefits:

  • Provide emotional and physical support
  • Model good behavior, tolerance, acceptance
  • Teach responsibility, including responsible human-animal interaction
  • Provide stress relief and help to relieve anxiety and depression
  • Model and teach kindness and compassion

What are some of the possible benefits of the Facility Dog program?

In a school setting, facility dogs are used for Animal Assisted Activities (AAA). Benefits could include:

  • Increase communication skills
  • Fostering trust
  • Reducing anxiety and ease stress
  • Reduce isolation and loneliness
  • Provides pleasure and affection
  • Improves self-esteem and feelings of self-worth
  • Improve socialization
  • Increase in attentiveness and engagement
  • Acquiring skills of acceptance and being non-judgmental
  • Reduction in inappropriate social behavior

What Services do the Facility Dogs Provide?

  • Scheduled classroom visits: Within the classroom setting, the dog may be used simply as a calming presence or may be used to interact with students and assist with educational material.
  • Assist the District's Support Services Division: The Facility Dog will be best utilized with students/staff who are particularly withdrawn, depressed, and anxious or otherwise experiencing some heightened emotions. With the dog’s presence, he/she may experience a decrease in stress levels, which may allow the individual to remain calm, feel more at ease, and potentially be more willing to discuss issues and needs; this allows the staff member to better identify appropriate resources and solutions.

Who owns the Facility Dog?

Each Facility Dog is owned by the Elizabethtown Area School District. Each dog is assigned a primary and secondary handler. The Facility Dog will live with his/her primary handler.

Meet Our Canine Partners

Each of our canine partners and their handlers have undergone intensive training through United Disabilities Services (UDS). Our school facility dogs live with school employees and are family pets outside of their school working hours.

Click on the links below to learn more about our facility dogs and see them in action.

Please note, Bear Creek School is on the UDS waiting list for a facility dog of their own.

Kolben, Murphy and Remi laying in front of the Bear at the High School