McAlester schools start therapy dog program | Local News

Therapy animals will soon help students at McAlester Public Schools.

School board members recently approved a policy amendment to allow therapy animals at district facilities — with Luna, a 6-year-old standard poodle, set to became the first certified therapy dog at MPS on Monday.

“This is going to be great for our district and our counselors initiated this because they care about our students,” Assistant Superintendent of Business and Operations Paula Meadows said.

MPS officials said students will be introduced to Luna and the therapy dog program on Monday.

The district’s initial therapy dog site will be the high school, but officials said more school sites will soon participate in the therapy dog program.

Therapy animals receive training to provide psychological and physiological therapy to individuals. 

The district’s policy states MPS is responsible for supporting all students and staff with social and emotional support needs and plans to provide that support through counselor-owned therapy dogs. 

Therapy dogs at the district must be actively participating in a certified training program that provides therapy dog certification through a licensed organization. 

The policy states therapy dogs must be immunized against common diseases and immunizations must be kept updated.

Therapy dogs at the school must be licensed if required by state and local government and are recommended to have proper identification.

Board members approved changes to the district’s “animals in school” policy to add the following about service animals:

“Service animals will be allowed in accordance with federal law. Members of the public, staff and students shall not be allowed to bring emotional support animals and therapy animals which do not meet the definition of a service animal on school property. an exception may be made by the superintendent for emotional support animals and therapy animals to be brought onto school premises by the school counselor for the benefit of the student body. The district shall post a sign in a conspicuous location outside the entrance of each school building stating which animals or types of animals are prohibited in accordance with Oklahoma law. The sign posted will indicate that service animals are permitted in accordance with federal law.”

The policy also states the district shall not assume custody or responsibility for service animals. 

Liability for any damages caused by an animal shall fall on the animal’s owner or the person in custody of it, as per policy.

 

 

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