WAYNE COUNTY, WV (WOWK) — A West Virginia therapy dog was welcomed to Wayne Elementary School in a “Pup Rally” on Friday.

First Lady Cathy Justice visited Wayne Elementary School to introduce Winnie, an Apricot and White Labradoodle.

Winne was introduced through the Friends With Paws Communities in Schools (CIS) program that was announced back in March.

The program places certified therapy dogs in West Virginia schools to provide emotional support for students. Therapy dogs can help reduce anxiety, improve mood, and remove social barriers. The dogs are also highly trained to work in stressful environments and ignore distractions.

Both First Lady Justice and Wayne Elementary Principal Melissa Maynard said Winnie will be a crucial asset to the school community. Students and school staff had the chance to meet Winne after the Pup Rally.

“Winnie will bring much joy and more to Wayne Elementary,” Principal Melissa Maynard said. “We know she will offer comfort when needed and bring excitement to the students when they are celebrating accomplishments and goals they have set out to achieve.”

The Office of First Lady Justice says Winnie is the eighth Friends With Paws therapy dog to be placed in 2022.