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‘Midget Mutts’ starts up at ELC

Dog therapy program touted as beneficial to students, staff

October 25, 2019
David Swartz - Managing Editor ( , Estherville News

The old saying goes, "Dogs are man's best friends." At Estherville Lincoln Central, therapy dogs are among the students' best friends.

At its regular meeting on Monday, the Estherville Lincoln Central School Board heard about the use of therapy dogs and their use at the school in a program called "Midget Mutts." The program is made possible through the efforts of the ELC Foundation and Thomas Bortvit funds.

Jean Herrick and Shelly Berning presented the information on the program.

Herrick and her dog Otto are currently certified. Berning and her dog is in the certification process.

The process for certification includes five steps-a cover letter, a background check, vaccination records, two letters of reference, and a walkthrough of another facility.

Berning said one of the benefits of the dog therapy program, is that it helps put ESL (English as a Second Language) students at ease.

It relaxes the students and staff and it promotes students self esteem," Berning said. "It also improves students attitudes, provokes social conversation and academic conversion."

The dogs are not in the school every day-perhaps two to three times a week. Herrick's dog is mostly at the high school while Berning's is at the elementary. ELC Middle School Principal Frank Christenson also is in the process of certifying his dog as a therapy dog.

For students who are not comfortable around dogs in general, Christenson said arrangements are made so that they do not have to come in contact with the canines.

The school district has permission slips sent to parents in which they can say whether their child may or may not have contact with the Midget Mutts Therapy Dogs.

In other business Monday, the school board approved the low snow removal bid from Juergens Construction of $3,000 per 'push.' The other bid of $3,576 per push came from ABC Services.



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