Police Dogs That Boost Student Well-Being

Type: Article
Topics: Health & Wellness, School Administrator Magazine

April 01, 2024


One of our 6th-grade students experienced deep grief last year when his twin brother passed away due to a tragic illness. In the days following, one of the few things that brought a smile to the boy’s face was the repeated visits he received from our school resource officers and their support dogs.

It was earlier that month that our school district partnered with the Garden Grove Police Department to launch the Paws for Students program, borne out of the genuine care of our school resource officers as they observed first-hand the prevalence of stress, anxiety and trauma affecting our students.

Paws for Students was created when three of the district’s seven SROs personally adopted support dogs Misha, Nellie and Heart, who live with them and work alongside them full time in our schools. The dogs and their handlers received intensive training with a nationally certified canine instructor before obtaining the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen Certification and more advanced certifications.

The SROs have created a model that other law enforcement agencies now are emulating. Funded by donations through the nonprofit John Reynolds Youth Support Canine Foundation, the program honors the legacy of a late Garden Grove police lieutenant who served our schools for years.

The foundation’s financial support underwrites the support dogs’ training and ongoing care needed to serve our district’s 38,000 students. The district has no direct expenses but reaps enormous benefits.

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Gabriela Mafi


Garden Grove, Calif.