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Evart board approves plans for therapy dog ​​team

EVART — With many school districts recognizing the benefits of therapy dogs within schools, Evart Public Schools is moving forward with plans to bring a furry employee to their district.

At its most recent board meeting on August 8, the board of education heard a presentation from Evart Elementary School Principal Kenneth Ranjel in which he outlined the details of the opportunity.

Ranjel was joined by elementary school social worker Tiffany Wolak, third grade teacher Amber Payne and paraprofessional Heather Keathley, who are part of the ‘Cats for Pups’ team.

“The unifying value that we all share is the belief that a dog can serve our population and can serve any population,” Ranjel said. “Especially with the population we serve, we have an opportunity to improve our students’ academic and social-emotional learning. It’s for everyone, not just for this team.”

The group attended the meeting to request permission to get official approval to form. Proposals were for the group to meet monthly, create a meticulous screening process, approve and deny potential dogs, and find a full-time therapy dog ​​and three trained handlers in the building.

Ranjel outlined the benefits of therapy dogs in schools, including dogs that not only have a positive effect on emotional well-being, but also influence cognitive development.

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