FRANKLIN, Tenn. (WTVF) — Therapy dogs in a Middle Tennessee school district are close to reaching almost every student daily.
The Franklin Special School District now has seven therapy dogs for its eight schools.
"The therapy dog program is a big part of that social, emotional growth for the students," said Ashley McCoy, assistant principal at Johnson Elementary School.
In addition to her leadership role, McCoy is the handler for 3-year-old Mattie, a gray goldendoodle. Mattie was the school district's first dog.
"She made her way around the district, made her way to different schools. People got to know her and as it started to grow. Dr. Snowden wanted more dogs and it kind of took off. I think Mattie played a big part in that," McCoy said.
Dr. Snowden is the director of schools for the Franklin Special School District. In addition to other district leaders, he paid for the adoption of two dogs for the school district.
"I think it's amazing. All the kids need it and there is only one of Mattie," McCoy said.
At Liberty Elementary School, Lauren Cochran is the co-handler of one of the newest dogs in the district, Starr.
"Coming off the heels of COVID where students have experienced new traumas, new dramatic changes to their social interactions... Starr has offered a lot of comfort, joy and love," Cochran said.
The district would love to have an eighth dog so no school had to share. It covers all training and vet expenses as well as the insurance that each animal carries.