School Based Facility Dog
At the start of 2018, Warriors' Best Friend began developing Operation School House, a school based facility dog program. Operation School House provides expertly trained homeless canines (rescue dogs) to K-12 schools, at minimal cost. Warriors' Best Friend partnered with William Jewel College professor, Dr. Pat Schoenrade and in cooperation with Liberty High School, to conduct a study to measure the impact of school based dogs on individuals and the school community.
Liberty High School was the recipient of two facility dogs Bear and Bentley. Bentley serves the students in their special education Essential Skills Classroom and BEST (Autism) program, and Bear assists the students in their special education Therapeutic Learning Classroom right alongside of supporting students in the Counseling and Social Work offices.
What is a facility dog?
A facility dog is a highly trained and skilled dog used to enhance the quality of life and education for children or adults with disabilities or special needs. They offer both mental and physical benefits covering several psychological disorders including anxiety disorder, autism, PTSD, ADHD, depression and other emotional challenges. The simple act of petting an animal releases an automatic relaxation response. This response releases hormones that play a part in elevating our moods.
Studies have proven that the integration of a dog in a classroom setting can relieve students' stress, help improve reading skills, increase academic scores, increase attendance and create a calm environment where students feel safe, accepted and loved. Research also shows that just the presence of a dog can decrease isolation and depression, create motivation, bridge communication gaps, reduce loneliness, provides comfort and lowers anxiety and agitation. Specific to students with Autism, a therapy or facility animal can increase engagement, communication skills, build confidence and reassurance during anxiety episodes, vocal skills and sensory integration.
To learn more or if interested in acquiring a facility dog for your school contact Joe Jeffers, Executive Director, at Joe@warriorsbestfriend.org!