PAWS for Pioneers District Therapy Dog Program
PAWS Mission Statement
It is the mission of Paws for Pioneers to provide emotional, social, and academic support through the introduction and interaction of therapy certified dogs in Stillwater Public Schools. Through this program students, teachers, and guests have the opportunity to interact with therapy dogs. This approach has proven to improve student motivation and foster academic success, while lowering stress and anxiety.
Research strongly indicates that school therapy dogs can help reduce the effects of trauma, anxiety and stress in students/staff, significantly increase academic achievement, improve student behaviors, increase school attendance, and build confidence and social skills.
Paws for Pioneers requires that all handler/dog teams certify through the Alliance of Therapy Dogs. Teachers then meet with their site principals and establish site-specific approval and expectations. Students are required to have a permission slip signed by a guardian and there are 3 levels of access.
- Full access to petting, playing, etc.
- Access to the same room as a dog/handler team but not allowed to pet/touch
- No access
At each school, the dogs are introduced at assemblies and the proper "pet manners" are taught such as asking for permission before petting a dog, staying in line and following teacher directions when encountering a dog in the building, and staying calm and respectful of the dog's space. SPS also has guidelines about health and safety such as keeping dogs out of rooms where food is served. Each dog wears a vest identifying them as a therapy animal.