CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WOWK) – Some schools in the Mountain State will be getting four-legged students walking around.

Seven more “Friends with Paws” therapy dogs will be added to schools across the state, according to the governor’s office. West Virginia Governor Jim Justice, First Lady Cathy Justice and their English bulldog Babydog made the announcement Thursday, Aug. 18.

“Friends with Paws” was announced last school year to place therapy dogs in schools to bring comfort to students. The program is a partnership between the Governor’s Office, West Virginia Communities In Schools (CIS) Nonprofit, and the West Virginia Department of Education. Justice says its current focus is on schools in communities disproportionately affected by poverty, substance misuse, or other at-risk situations.

The seven new schools receiving a four-legged friend for the Fall 2022 semester include:

  • Pineville Elementary School in Wyoming County – a male Yellow Labrador named River.
  • Moorefield Elementary School in Hardy County – a male Black Labrador named Shadow.
  • Spring Mills High School in Berkeley County – a male Yellow Labrador named Jet.
  • Wayne Elementary School in Wayne County – a female Apricot Labradoodle named Emily.
  • Lenore Elementary School in Mingo County – a male Black Labrador named Kylo.
  • Green Bank Elementary-Middle School in Pocahontas County – a female Yellow Labrador named Kasha.
  • Greenbrier East High School in Greenbrier County – a male Cream/White Labradoodle named Marshal.

During a press conference announcing the dogs’ new roles, Justice talked about his thoughts on the healing power of dogs using a very familiar face – Babydog.

“This is great stuff, I’ll promise you,” Justice said. “This little rascal (Babydog) has saved my life because the last couple years have been really tough, and the one thing she does – when you look at this thing, she makes you smile.”

There are now 10 certified therapy dogs in schools across the Mountain State. Earlier this year, Jasper, a female Yellow Labrador was placed at Lewis County High School, Foster, a male Golden Labradoodle, was placed at Buckhannon Academy Elementary; and the first Friend with Paws to be placed, Coal, a male Black Labrador, was placed at Welch Elementary.