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A therapy dog to help students in school

  |   Dec. 19, 2012 at 8:32 AM
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ROCHESTER, N.Y., Dec. 19 (UPI) -- Therapy dogs visit hospitals and nursing homes, comfort dogs are in Newtown, Conn., and soon a dog will help students in school with anger, officials say.

School psychologist Angela Mullally says she is hopeful a therapy dog will be working at School 19 in the Rochester City School District in New York this school year to help students with anger issues, WHAM-TV, Rochester, reports.

Mullally is working with the National Education for Assistance Dog Services to get a therapy dog in School 19.

"What I foresee is to help our students with coping strategies, working on anger issues," Mullally says.

Mullally says she hopes the dog will help calm students faster, so they spend more time in the classroom.

In Newtown, nine dogs and 14 handlers have been serving the bereaved community as they attend church services, memorial services and vigils.

The Lutheran Church Charities Comfort Dog program sends dogs and handlers to areas traumatized by man-made or natural disasters, but they also help in schools, assisted living, and fire and police departments. Their philosophy is: "A dog is a friend who brings a calming influence, allowing people to open up their hearts and receive help for what is affecting them."

"The reaction to the presence of the comfort dogs is overwhelming. Children and adults alike smiled for the first time in days as they reach out to pet or hug a dog," a comfort dog handler in Newtown said in a statement. "They begin to relax and as that happens they start talking to the handlers about their fears and pain."

Each comfort dog carries a business card with its name, Facebook page, twitter account and email so those who meet the canine can keep in touch.

A video on the history of the program is at: http://www.lutheranchurchcharities.org/index.phpoption=com_content&view=article&id=377&Itemid=116

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