West Bay Elementary gets therapy dog to help students with stress and anxiety

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WEST BAY, Fla. (WMBB) — West Bay Elementary School Counselor Kelly Dean works everyday to find new and creative ways to provide therapy for her students. 

The idea for a trained therapy dog has been talked about for a few years, and is now finally a reality. An idea has been heavily supported by BDS Superintendent, Bill Husfelt.

“He has been a big fan of always looking at and meeting all of the needs of our students. Not just academically, but socially and emotionally too, so he was on board as well,” Dean said.

Now– there’s a new furry friend walking the halls of West Bay Elementary School.

A Bernese Mountain-Poodle mix is the school’s new therapy animal.

And while it’s been a long time coming– 5 year old Murphy, who lives with Dean, is now part of the West Bay family.   

“We have a lot of students who, as you know, have been through a lot in the past couple years. So we’ll be able to use Murphy to maybe reduce some anxiety and make them feel better about some things that are going on,” Dean said.

The hope is for Murphy to help students learn responsibility, respect, empathy and even help them read with confidence.

“They can have some time where Murphy will listen to them read,” said Dean.

School leaders also think this furry educator will improve attendance and behavioral problems.

“So anything at all that the students might need help and support with, we will try to include Murphy in that. He’s part of our family now,” said Dean.

The school expects Murphy to be part of the West Bay family for years to come.

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