Chancellor Carranza Celebrates the Expansion of the Comfort Dog Program and the Launch of the Pre-Canine for All Training Program

  • Posted: Thu Oct 25, 2018

45 schools currently participating in program, expected to grow to approximately 60 this year

QUEENS – Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza today celebrated the third consecutive year expanding the Comfort Dog program, which is now in 45 schools citywide and will be in approximately 60 by the end of the school year. He also celebrated the launch of Pre-Canine for All, a training program that helps new comfort dogs prepare to join school communities. Eight new dogs are participating in Pre-Canine for All this fall, and approximately 15 more dogs will join the program and participate in the training later this school year.  

“Whether it’s a reading buddy or a warm welcome on a hard day, comfort dogs have an impact on school communities, contributing to students’ academic and social-emotional well-being,” said Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza. “This is an exciting and innovative program, and I’m thrilled that we’re expanding it.”

“We’re committed to serving the whole child, and the Comfort Dog program is a prime example of the creative ways in which we do that work,” said LaShawn Robinson, Deputy Chancellor for the Division of School Climate and Wellness. “Through positive, age-appropriate interactions and interventions, these dogs are changing school cultures and improving students’ school experiences.”

Comfort dogs enhance school culture and climate, working both in classroom and counseling settings to support students who have both mandated and at-risk counseling needs. Schools may also integrate the dogs into their crisis intervention and de-escalation practices. 

All comfort dogs are rescued and identified for inclusion in the program by North Shore Animal League America. A staff member at each school adopts the dog and participates in mandatory Pre-Canine for All training led by an animal behavioral specialist. Through this training, school staff learn body language cues, safe dog handling techniques, and how to help their dog participate in social-emotional support and academic intervention games. Schools also receive ongoing support from the behavioral specialist. 

“Comfort dogs enhance confidence, motivation, communication and so much more in our students,” said Kirsten Kinsella, Comfort Dog Behaviorist. “When I work with students, staff, and their school’s dog, I see firsthand the difference this program is making, and I look forward to working with more schools throughout the year.”

“North Shore Animal League America is excited to be working in partnership with the New York City Department of Education to provide classroom dogs,” said Jayne Vitale, Director of Outreach and Youth Programs at North Shore Animal League America. “NYC DOE has helped to shine a light on the great value of mixed breed pets – Mutt-i-grees, and at the same time enhance the lives of children, faculty and families. It has brought the importance of rescue and adoption to the forefront, and all the wonderful dogs waiting for loving homes at a shelter.”

“PS 81 is a marvelous school that will love their comfort dog,” said Assembly Member Catherine Nolan, Chair of the Assembly Education Committee. “In Ridgewood many people cannot have a dog in a small apartment; this will give children an opportunity to experience a great relationship.”

“The Comfort Dog Program helps students build their emotional intelligence and overall provides an innovative way to engage them throughout the school year with a friendly companion,” said Assembly Member Michael Miller. “I’m happy to see this program being expanded into more schools and into my district.”

“Successful schools don’t stop by just providing a comprehensive academic education for each student, they also ensure that students are well prepared for life both mentally and emotionally by providing programs that help enhance student’s well-being,” said Assembly Member David I. Weprin. “It’s great to see that Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza is continuing and expanding this wonderful program for our students.”

“I am pleased to see the expansion of the comfort dog and Pre-Canine for All training programs, which help to address the social and emotional health of students with specific counseling needs,” said Council Member Barry S. Grodenchik.  “Students at PS 224Q, located within the district that I represent, will soon benefit from these valuable programs.”

The names and schools of the eight new dogs are:



Bailey, MS 88



Bailey, Jonas Bronck Academy 

Harper, PS 209 



Parker, PS 79

Coral, Pace High School



Cypress, PS 81

Lady, PS 22

Delight, PS 224 





PS 23

Brooklyn Transition Center

Park Place Community Middle School

MS 88

Brooklyn Brownstone School

New Bridges Elementary

PS 90

PS 231

PS 200

Shell Bank Junior High School

Abraham Lincoln High School

PS 185

The School of Journalism & Technology



Academy of Applied Mathematics and Technology


PS 70

PS 204 

Bronx Park Middle School

PS 176


PS 267

Lower Manhattan Community Middle School

PS 75

PS 145

PS 102

Professor Juan Bosch Public School



PS 75

Corona Arts and Sciences Academy

PS 120 

P.S. 209

PS 76 

The Riverview School

IS 204


Staten Island

PS 1 Tottenville

IS 7 Elias Bernstein 

PS 22

The Michael J. Petrides School

Staten Island Technical High School

Staten Island School of Civic Leadership