(WXYZ) – When students return to Oxford Schools this week, therapy dogs will play an important role in providing comfort, and experts agree that it is needed.
“The dogs at school can be of great help. I’m all for it, ”said Jacquelyn Night-Oliver. As the parents of two daughters in Rochester, Night-Oliver is a big advocate of the use of therapy dogs in schools.
Michigan Dog Training therapy dog trainer Michael Burkey adds that the companions are simply “very non-judgmental.
Related: New comfort dog named ‘Oxford’ to help students in Oxford Community Schools
At his K-9 school in Plymouth, Burkey says dogs learn to welcome affection and comfort children, and teachers learn to handle them.
“I trained eight therapy dogs for the Novi Consolidated School District, these dogs are in the classrooms not only to help in class, but also in counseling sessions.”
“Anything we can do to increase that feeling of comfort, safety and security, we will do,” said Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard.
Sheriff Bouchard also shared the latest addition to his office aimed at assisting students in healing.
“This is little Oxford, the first time anyone has seen him. He’s so cute and assigned to Oxford Underground and Oxford Schools,” he said.
The mental health expert, Dr. Howard Belkin, also pointed out what research shows in dealing with trauma, stress, feelings of isolation, and PTSD for children of all ages.
“The worth of a therapy dog cannot be overestimated. Whether for adults or children, it is one of the best tools for a psychologist or psychiatrist. Especially with the Oxford tragedy, children need to be able to relate to someone who will trust them . Love and you can express your feelings. You can get love, empathy and compassion back, “said Dr. Belkin.
It is compassion at times that can inspire fear, frustration, and doubt.
“It’s definitely necessary. I don’t want any school district to think of any school district restricting the ages of children,” said Night-Oliver.
The Oakland County Attorney’s Office has also provided therapy dogs to the community as we all come together to heal.