Sign In

Bringing Therapy Dogs To School

September 24, 2020

While Chip the Sheltie patiently waits for students to return to Verellen Elementary School, students at Garber High School have embarked on a mission to bring the Shetland Sheepdog some co-workers in the district.

An after-school program there is now competing for a $25,000 grant that would bring therapy dogs to each of the four schools in the Essexville-Hampton Public Schools district.

Ethan Shannon and Lori Flippin are lead mentors for FRC Team 5216, or The E-Ville Empire, at Garber High. The team is part of the FIRST Robotics Competition, a national network of after-school programs that compete in robotics competitions.

While robotics competitions often focus on STEM topics – or science, technology, engineering, and mathematics – FIRST Robotics is different. A community service aspect is built into the organization’s mission.

“It’s about more than just robots. The organization pushes its teams and mentors. It’s more than just technology; it’s about empathy,” Shannon says. Lead mentor for the E-Ville Empire, Shannon is also a chemistry, AP chemistry, and AP computer science teacher at Garber High.

“The world needs good human beings, too.” And dogs.

While community service projects in each of the past several years have focused on physical safety, the most recent robotics team wanted to switch things up and focus on mental health instead. A fundraising campaign would go on to raise almost $5,000 to purchase Chip the Sheltie, a therapy dog that has been dispatched to Verellen Elementary.

Now Garber High as well as Cramer Junior High and Bush Elementary schools may get therapy dogs of their own, too.

The E-Ville Empire team’s therapy dog project has been selected as one of 200 projects nationwide, vying for the chance to win one of 40 $25,000 grants from State Farm Insurance. Shannon says that winning the grant would save five to six

All they need is the community’s votes.

“As of right now, our program is placed 15 out of 200 entries. Winning is not a pipe dream,” Shannon says.

“We can do it if the community comes out and supports us.”

Register Your Dog

  • Most Recent News

    Students Get Therapy Dog

    When middle school students return to class on Jan. 11, they’ll find a new face at the door: Daisy. Daisy is a therapy dog and the personal pet of Rob Kreger, principal of the Rock L. Butler Middle School. The five-year-old golden retriever is not a school pet or mascot, but rather a working dog […]

    Read more

    Therapy Dogtor

    Last March, Caroline Benzel, a third-year medical student, began to notice the stress and discomfort her nurse friends were feeling from the pressures of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. “[Personal protective equipment] can be really rough on the skin,” Benzel, 31, tells PEOPLE. Benzel and her 3-year-old Rottweiler, Loki (who’s also a therapy dog) hatched a […]

    Read more

    Therapy Dog Pups

    When Stanley the miniature fox terrier’s owner passed away, the little dog started a ‘paw-some’ new role – bringing puppy love to some of the Gold Coast’s oldest residents. After Carinity Cedarbrook Diversional Therapist Julianne Staff adopted Stanley, he began visiting the aged care community at Mudgeeraba as a therapy dog. Therapy dogs help to […]

    Read more

    Puppy Cams

    A nonprofit is providing an unusual form of therapy for those on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic – puppy cams! “You spend five minutes with a puppy and try not to smile,” said registered nurse Robin Lingg Lagrone. Lingg Lagrone says watching little furballs wag their tails and prance on their paws helps […]

    Read more

    Pet Committee

    When Moore County’s school doors were abruptly closed earlier in 2020, two- and four-legged volunteers from the Moore County Citizens’ Pet Responsibility Committee (PRC) were in their 12th year of presenting a six-session Pet Responsibility Education Program for fourth-graders. The PRC quickly shifted gears and placed its program materials online as part of a home […]

    Read more

    The Right Rescue Dog

    If your New Year’s resolution is to add a canine family member, good for you. Somewhere out there is the perfect puppy or adult dog for your family. You have a lot of things to think about when you begin to look for that new family member, puppy or dog? Large or small? Purebred or […]

    Read more