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Mesa, AZ: Schools' therapy dogs help with "panic attacks or thoughts of suicide"

Dec 24, 2019, Hartford (CT) Courant: Arizona schools use therapy dogs to assist mental health https://www.courant.com/pets/sns-arizona-schools-use-therapy-dogs-mental-health-20191224-lswdbgroabd63icq756lvri7gm-story.html MESA, Ariz. (AP) — An Arizona school district is using four-legged therapy counselors as part of a pilot program to help students deal with issues related to mental health, officials said. The PAWsitive Peers therapy dog program was implemented in five schools in Mesa, The Arizona Republic reports. Students at East Valley Academy, Johnson Elementary School, Kino Junior High School, Rhodes Junior High School, and Mountain View High School interact with dogs in counselors' offices and classroom visits…. At Mountain View, students visit with a dog named Sawyer while experiencing panic attacks or thoughts of suicide. Sawyer is also brought in when teachers discuss difficult topics such as the Holocaust…. The Maricopa County Health Department said 29 children ages 11 to 17 died by suicide in 2018, up from 23 the previous year. Two Mountain View students died by suicide in 2019, officials said. … The idea for the PAWsitive Peers program came after a team of Mesa Public Schools administrators visited schools in New York City using therapy dogs.