Briarwood teacher seeks support for school therapy dog

Briarwood Elementary teacher Allison Billingsley has established a GoFundMe fundraiser in the hopes of raising funds for a therapy dog to use for a teaching tool at the school. She wants to adopt from Deer Creek Labradoodles in Kentucky. Deer Creek provides emotional support dogs, therapy dogs, service and therapy prospects, canine good citizen dogs as well as family pets.

Her letter requesting support states, "Our school would benefit from a therapy dog because their presence in an educational setting supports concentration, attention, motivation and reduces high-stress levels, which promote effective learning and performance. A therapy dog at school would also be a great teaching tool to teach empathy, appropriate interpersonal skills, help individuals develop social skills, and increase learning motivation."

She continues, "Research shows that having therapy dogs in schools leads to a range of benefits, including an increase in school attendance, gains in confidence, decreases in learner anxiety behaviors resulting in improved learning outcomes, such as increases in reading and writing levels, positive changes towards learning and enhanced motivation, and enhanced relationships with peers and teachers due to experiencing trust and unconditional love from a therapy dog. Therapy dogs, in turn, helps students learn how to express their feelings and enter into more trusting relationships."

Billingsley would be the dog's caretaker and it would go with her wherever she lives. However, her plan is to remain at Briarwood throughout her career. A consistent handler is a requirement of the breeder's for placement. The fundraiser requests $10,000 to cover the cost of breeding and training. Of that 16 people have thus far donated $840.

Deer Creek has a non-profit organization, Deer Creek's Paw Prints which has already provide three Labradoodles; Molly, Rhys, and Beau, to work at Rich Pond Elementary as therapy dogs.

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