BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – The Brevard County school district is making therapy dog history this year with the help of “cuddly” bloodhounds assigned to four elementary schools, with another canine waiting for assignment.
The loveable bloodhounds, Chase, Daisy, Patton, Beth and Ivy come from the Paws and Stripes program.
Dogs are trained to give students an emotional break on campus when students are dealing with anxiety from home or in the classroom.
Brevard County Sheriff Cpl. Carrie Pyne is the handler for Chase, a two-and-a-half-year-old bloodhound walking the halls of Mila Elementary School in Merritt Island since 2022.
She is currently working with Ivy, a newly graduated puppy, as the cute bloodhound awaits placement at a district school.
“If you think about it,” Pyne told News 6, “A dog is unconditional love.”
That unconditional love has become the trademark of the bloodhounds in the Paws and Stripes program, something the students have come to love.
One 5th grader said he felt “happiness” when he hugged the 110-pound bloodhound the day News 6 visited Mila Elementary last week.
“Just in registration, half of the kids that came in the first thing they asked was ‘where’s Chase?’” principal Dawna O’Brien told News 6.
“If they have a test, If a best friend moves away, we bring in Chase,” Obrien said, “And you see the child’s anxiety go from here to down.”
O’Brien, an Exceptional education student teacher and advocate, told News 6 she has been a longtime proponent of therapy dogs and how they help students cope with daily pressures.
Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey has been the point man on introducing therapy dogs to the school district and O’Brien said she never hesitated when he offered Chase to Mila Elementary.
“I followed the research on what therapy dogs do for kids and how they lessen the anxiety as well as support (students),” she said, “So when Sheriff Ivey called and said do you want a dog I said yes.”
There are currently 15 therapy dogs in schools across Central Florida.
For more information on Paws and Stripes, click here.
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