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'Project PUP' pairs therapy dogs with students to help with anxiety, kindness and reading skills

6 dogs are on the job at Reddick Elementary
Posted at 4:57 AM, Oct 21, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-21 13:26:06-04

WIMAUMA, Fla. — A program with therapy dogs at one Tampa Bay Area elementary school is helping students with anxiety, kindness and reading skills.

Shelley Herda loves her dogs Chloe and Cooper so much that she brought them to her job and put them to work.


“I have these wonderful dogs at home that bring me so much joy, I wanted to share them with the students,” Herda said.

Herda is a counselor at Reddick Elementary in Wimauma.

She started “Project PUP” (Pets Uplifting People) with Chloe and Cooper, who are certified therapy dogs. Now several other teachers and their dogs are also involved.

Project PUP pairs dogs with students for a variety of helpful reasons including reducing anxiety and stress, building confidence and kindness, and strengthening reading skills.

The dogs also act as a reward system; if classrooms behave, they get playtime.

So far Project PUP is a hit.

Reddick Elementary is so fur-friendly, they also have another program called Reading With Daisy.

More dogs mean more happiness.

“We love it, the dogs love it, the students love it,” says Herda.