Date of Award

Spring 4-2014

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department

Education

First Advisor

Dr. Patricia Conner

Second Advisor

Dr. Sherry DeVore

Third Advisor

Dr. Kathy Grover

Abstract

Children and adolescents arrive at schools with more than just academic needs. Unfortunately, accountability is paramount in the minds of legislators, thus making test scores top priority for most public educators. For decades, pet therapy and pet assisted activities have been quite successful in mental health institutions, hospitals, and nursing homes. However, the body of work concerning pet therapy and pet assisted activities in public education is limited. The purpose of this case study was to determine if pet therapy is successful in a southwest Missouri school district and to examine how teachers and administrators employ their pet therapy dog. A mixed methods design was utilized using a qualitative case study approach and quantitative methods to determine the consensus of teachers and administrators involved with pet therapy. The data were collected and then triangulated to procure commonalities with interviews, surveys, and research. Administrators and counselors in the district were interviewed to determine their perceptions on pet therapy. A survey was made available to teachers in the building to assess their opinions of the pet therapy program. The results of the study concluded pet therapy is successful in the participating rural southwest Missouri school district. The district utilizes pet therapy in every possible way from assisting with their special educational program, to applying it to their reading programs, even using their pet therapy dog with PTA fund raising projects. In conclusion, it was determined pet therapy is a positive academic, social, and mental tool in the public school setting.

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