Therapy dog organization talks potential role after meeting with Madison City Schools

Therapy dog organization talks potential role after meeting with Madison City Schools

MADISON, AL (WAFF) - Therapy dogs could be cuddling their way into Madison City Schools.

The city of Madison board of education invited representatives from Therapy Partners to give a presentation at its meeting on Tuesday.

Therapy Partners is a Huntsville-based organization that educates and coordinates volunteer teams of animals and trainers. The teams service local hospitals, schools and retirement homes among others.

Therapy Partners teams director Mary Graham was part of the presentation and said the board had expressed interest in the dogs helping service students suffering with depression. She said her teams' work in other schools had shown good results.

“They say they are constantly going they miss their dogs, and it helps them feel better. It helps them relax, it helps them feel more comfortable in their own skin, so hopefully we can be useful in that way to the students,” she said.

The University of California Los Angeles Health System cites numerous mental health and physical health benefits, including reduced anxiety, reduced loneliness and lowered blood pressure among others.

A Facebook post from Madison City Schools stated “Several MCS counselors told the Board that anxieties and depression are on the rise among students both here and nationwide. If the program is approved, visits could begin early next year. The dogs would be in the care of a trained handler and matched specifically to need.”

Madison City Schools spokesman John Peck was unable to comment on Wednesday how close the board was to making a decision on the dogs.

Graham said she had not heard from the board since the meeting.

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