WF Police & WF Schools Partner on Comfort K-9 Program

  • In May 2022, the West Fargo Police Department announced the state’s very first comfort dog/School Resource Officer (SRO) pairing. Bella is a labrador mix that works with Elementary SRO Todd Pearson.

    Labby, a goldendoodle, joined the team in August 2023. She works with Elementary SRO Dora Roll.   

    West Fargo Public Schools is honored to have two comfort dog/SRO teams, and thanks the West Fargo Police Department for pursuing this innovative opportunity to work with learners, educators, and families.

     

SRO Pearson & Bella

SRO Pearson and K-9 Bella

Comfort K-9 Bella

photo of K-9 Bella

SRO Roll & Labby

photo of SRO Roll and K-9 Labby in front of a squad car

Comfort K-9 Labby

photo of comfort K-9 Labby reading a book

Program Benefits

  • Research studies have shown the benefits of comfort dogs in school settings to be numerous:

    • Cognitive: Companionship with a dog stimulates memory, problem-solving, and game playing. 
    • Social: A dog provides a positive mutual topic for discussion while encouraging responsibility, wellbeing, and focused interaction with others. 
    • Emotional: School dogs improve self-esteem, acceptance from others, and lift your mood, often provoking laughter and fun. Dogs can also teach compassion and respect for other living things as well as relieve anxiety. 
    • Physical: Interaction with a furry friend reduces blood pressure, provides tactile stimulation, assists with pain management, gives motivation to move, and stimulates the senses. 
    • Academic: Reading to dogs has been proven to help children develop literacy skills and build confidence, through both the calming effect the dog's presence has on children as well as the fact that a dog will listen to children read without being judgemental or critical. This comforting environment helps to nurture children's enthusiasm for reading and provides them with the confidence to read aloud. 

Program Challenges

  • While West Fargo Public Schools believes in the benefits of a comfort K-9 program in schools, we would be remiss if we didn't acknowledge the challenges associated with having a dog on campus. In schools with long-standing comfort K-9 programs, they have identified the most common challenges as allergies, previous trauma or a fear of dogs, and religious restrictions. The district's online registration process for all learners in grades PK-5 includes a form that allows SROs Roll and Pearson to work collaboratively with educators and learners to plan appropriate interactions with comfort K-9s Labby and Bella.