By Erica Thomas, managing editor
TRUSSVILLE — The new Trussville City Schools facility dogs made their Board of Education debut at the board’s work session on Monday, May 17, 2021.
Skye, Bullet and Atom are trained facility dogs now roaming the halls of Hewitt-Trussville High School and Hewitt-Trussville Middle School.
TCS and Service Dogs Alabama (SDA) teamed up to make the new additions possible. The facility dogs were approved before the coronavirus pandemic, but we are sure they will help ease the daily stresses of students and teachers while facing unique challenges. The three dogs completed training and are Certified Facility Dogs.
The dogs were recognized at the board meeting and they were all given photo ID cards.
Skye has been assigned to the high school. She will assist students and staff. Counselor Laura Stalls is Skye’s handler.
Bullet and Atom are in the middle school. Krista DeMent, Counselor at Hewitt-Trussville Middle School, is Bullet’s handler and Erin Piper, Assistant Principal, is Atom’s handler.
The handlers said their dogs got straight to work as soon as they were put in schools.
“I’ve had more kids in my office this week,” said Stalls…”Skye just goes in and she just visits. If you take her into a classroom and tell her to visit, she walks up and down every single row.”
Stalls said if a child is uncomfortable with the dog, they simply put their hands on their desk and Skye knows not to visit that student.
“It’s been absolutely wonderful,” she said. “And for me too, it just gives me a whole new life of just being able to have that excitement.”
The purpose of the K-9 helpers is to reduce stress and increase motivation, focus and task persistence. Atom is still in training and has made quick friends with Skye. In fact, the two set beside each other during their introduction to the board and even shared kisses.
The facility dog program was facilitated through the Alabama State Department of Education. Continued training and monitoring will be in place by SDA for the remainder of the dogs’ working lives.