Students attending six Queens schools will be able to interact with puppies as part of the Department of Education’s (DOE) Comfort Dog program.
Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña announced on Sept. 26 that the program, which was started last year, will expand to 30 additional schools across the city, bringing the total number of schools with a designated pup to 37.
Each dog is adopted from the North Shore Animal League and are brought in to “improve school climate and contribute to social-emotional learning.”
A staff member at each school adopts the dog and educators can opt in to receive training in the Mutt-i-Gree curriculum, which includes lesson plans and strategies to incorporate the dog into counseling protocols.
“The Comfort Dog program brings a smile to students and staff on a challenging day, helps to de-escalate issues and can even provide bereavement support,” Fariña said. “We know students need academic and social-emotional supports to succeed in the classroom and beyond, and comfort dogs are helping nearly 40 schools strengthen their culture and build stronger relationships.”
Schools that will adopt the program include P.S. 076 William Hallet and P.S. 277 The Riverview School in Long Island City, P.S. 120 in Flushing, P.S. 224 in Bellerose, P.S. 75 Robert E. Peary School in Ridgewood and I.S. 204 Oliver W. Holmes in Astoria.
P.S. 209 Clearview Gardens in Whitestone adopted the program during the last school year.
“We are so excited to see that the program has grown from seven schools to 30 additional schools in just one year — talk about a good report card,” said Joanne Yohannan, senior vice president, North Shore Animal League America. “Our Mutt-i-Grees curriculum is teaching many important lessons, helping raise awareness about the importance of rescue and imparting life lessons in empathy while helping prepare the next generation to be true humanitarians.”