'Facility' dogs coming to area schools in Poughkeepsie

POUGHKEEPSIE, New York (WABC) -- An elementary school in Poughkeepsie is going to the dogs.

Milano, a highly-trained facility dog, will soon join the faculty at the Violet Avenue School. Similar to service and therapy dogs, facility dogs work in specific professional or educational settings.

This week, staffers underwent training at a school for at-risk kids which already employs three such dogs. Dr. David Crenshaw, clinical director at Children's Home of Poughkeepsie says the dogs help diffuse tense situations. "That's what the dogs do best. They lower blood pressure, they lower heart rate, they help people to feel calmer."
The dogs are trained by ECAD, a Connecticut based non-profit organization. The group says having a dog at a school full time is more beneficial for students than the more common practice of bringing in therapy dogs after traumatic events.

"He's there when they're happy, he's there when they're sad, when they're stressed out," says ECAD co-founder, Lu Picard.

Milano will start work during summer sessions in July. "I think it's going to be calming and reinforcing for the staff as much as it will be for the children," says principal Deanna Gonzalez.

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