Communities In Schools
Communities In Schools

Friends With Paws

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Friends With Paws Logo

​Friends With Paws is an initiative of the Communitie​s In Schools (CIS) West Virginia nonprofit in collaboration with Governor and First Lady Cathy Justice. It is West Virginia's statewide school therapy dog program, built around in-depth research and professional training methods. It is ​a ​collaboration between the Office of the First Lady and the West Virginia Department of Education.​

​Each Friends With Paws therapy dog is trained extensively at Ul​timate C​anine in Westfield, Indiana,​ where owner Julie Case has created a state of the art 20 step temperament test to evaluate and identify the in-born natural traits of dogs. With over 27 years of experience testing thousands of puppies and dogs around the world, Julie and her staff are able to determine if certain dogs could become school therapy dogs in the future.

​​Since therapy dogs are working with students, great ca​re is taken to ensure that the dogs are trained at the highest level by one of the top therapy dog organizations in the country. Prior to coming to West Virginia, each therapy dog is highly train​ed and certified to show their ability to work in stressful environments, ignore distractions, manage crowds, and provide therapy to people with diverse backgrounds and circumstances. In addition, they have hours of experience traveling to places with large amounts of people so that they can practice and hone their skills. Each Friends With Paws therapy dog is specially trained to respond to trauma while providing comfort, support, and love to our state’s students. ​Therapy dogs can also be avid “listeners”, providing an audience for children who have difficulty reading aloud in front of an entire ​class. The student practices reading to the dog so that they are able to gain confidence reading aloud.

​​As of September 2023, 15 therapy dogs have been placed in CIS schools across th​e st​​ate​.​​​​

Coal - Welch Elementary sChool, McDowell County

Coal with Student 
Coal and Baby Dog 
Welch Elementary Pup Rally​​

Foster - Buckhannon Academy Elementary School, ​Upshur County

Foster with Student 
Foster with Band ​​
Buckhannon Academy Pup Rally

Jasper - Lewis County High School, Lewis County

Jasper with Student 
First Lady Cathy Justice meeting Jasper 
Jasper meeting students​​

River - Pineville Elementary School, Wyoming County

River ​​​
River with students 
River with students 
River at Pup Rally​​ ​

Shadow - Moorefield Elementary School, ​Hardy County

First Lady Justice with Shadow and students ​
Shadow with Student ​​
Moorefield Elementary Pup Rally

Jet - Spring Mills High School, Berkeley County​

Jet with Students ​
Jet with Student and Jet's Trainer ​​
Jet with his trainer at pup rally

Kylo - Lenore Pk-8 School, Mingo County​

Kylo with First Lady Justice ​
Kylo with cheerleaders and First Lady Justice ​​
Kylo pup rally 

Winnie - Wayne Elementary School, Wayne County​

Winnie at Pup Rally ​
Winnie with trainer at pup rally ​​
Winnie pup rally ​

Kasha - Green Bank Elementary-Middle School, Pocahontas County​

Kasha playing ​
Kasha with students ​​​
Kasha pup rally

Marshal - Hinton Area Elementary School, Summers County​

Marshal ​
Marshal with a student ​​
Marshal pup rally 

Louie - Bridgeview Elementary School, Kanawha County​

Louie with Students ​
Louie with trainer at pup rally ​​
Louie sitting beside a sign that says Welcome Louie

Oakley - Oakley Elementary School, Mercer County​

Oakley with Students ​
Oakley with trainer at pup rally ​​
Oakley pup rally 

Ruby - Greenbrier East High School, Greenbrier County​​

Ruby performing snuggle command ​
Ruby with trainer at pup rally ​​
Ruby Pup Rally with Governor Justice, First Lady Justice, and Babydog on stage 

Malfoy - Chapmanville Intermediate School, Logan County​​

Malfoy with First Lady Justice and students ​
Malfoy with a student ​​
Malfoy with First Lady Justice and students 

Tora - Elkins High School, Randolph County​​

Tora running at Pup Rally ​
Tora with students and staff of Elkins High School ​​
Tora performing knuckles command