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District highlights success of ‘PAWSitive’ program

Times Observer file photo Warren County School District PAWSitive Support Program K-9 Hero visits with school board members during committee meetings last

There are now five dogs throughout schools in the Warren County School District serving in what the district calls the PAWSitive Support program.

And district officials are reporting the advantages of that effort.

“We can see the benefit of having the dogs,” Director of Pupil Services Dr. Patricia Mead said. “There are expenses related to the dogs. The expenses are extremely minimal.”

Hero is at Beaty; Pepper is at Warren Area Elementary Center and Sheffield; Wag Joan is at Eisenhower; Dee Dee is at Warren Area High School and Sheffield while Gus is in Youngsville.

An annual report included survey data that shows 82 percent of students and 85 percent of staff believe the program has “improved the school climate” while 69 percent of students and 67 percent of staff “believe the PAWSitive Support has enhanced social and emotional learning.”

Many comments from staff and students were included.

“I love the dogs and I feel they are very beneficial to the students, particularly the lower grades where they support social emotional learning,” one teacher said.

“They make my school day better,” a student added.

Mead told the board that the district is exploring options to find free dog food and also receive a $6,000 annual donation from two community members.

She said the district has discussed fundraising with the Community Foundation of Warren County “so that we can keep the costs to a minimal expense.”

Mead said the feedback on the program has been positive but added there was “insight on the survey that is not necessarily positive but meaningful.”

Respondents raised the concern about the distraction a dog walking into the classroom can be as well as potential allergy issues

“It was a collective idea,” she said of the program. “It took us a while to get our feet going but we were successful.”

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