MCDOWELL COUNTY, WV (WOWK) – McDowell County Schools had a special visit from West Virginia Governor Jim Justice, First Lady Cathy Justice, Babydog and second furry friend Friday, April 8.

The first “Friends with Paws” event began today to welcome a new therapy dog to Welch Elementary. The Black Labrador Retriever named Coal is the school’s first therapy dog.

The Justices came up with the idea of “Friends with Paws” after visiting several schools with dogs already in their classrooms and say they saw the positive impact it made on the students.

“This has been a really long project that’s come to fruition today,” First Lady Cathy Justice said. “We’ve been working on this for a year and a half. We’ve added dogs from different sources all over the country.”

Coal is just a little over a year old. Cathy Justice says this will open many doors for the children in the classroom.

The “Friends with Paws” program aims to have a total of 10 dogs placed in classrooms by next fall.