Meet Milo: First canine employee at West Ottawa schools

Ottawa County

HOLLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — A lakeshore elementary school welcomed a new employee Tuesday.

Milo is a purebred black labrador retriever and West Ottawa Public Schools‘ first emotional support dog.

His assignment is to assist children at Great Lakes Elementary School in Holland.

West Ottawa therapy dog Milo
Milo the therapy dogs visits Great Lakes Elementary in West Ottawa Public Schools. (Oct. 22, 2019)

“When kids are having big feelings and struggling with their emotions, they’re going to be able to go and see and pet and kind of calm down,” said Dave Stefanich, principal of Great Lakes Elementary.

Stefanich says the district has stayed up to date on research on mental health and hired nine people to help children with their challenges to make sure they’re ready to learn.

“They’re coming to school with more needs than we have seen in the past. Our job as a school and organization is to meet kids where they’re at and support them,” Stefanich said.

West Ottawa therapy dog Milo
Milo the therapy dogs visits Great Lakes Elementary in West Ottawa Public Schools. (Oct. 22, 2019)

Milo is a gift from the senior class of 2019. They did their research and took advice from Brighton Area Schools district in Livingston County, which has more than a dozen therapy dogs on staff.

“We really believe in supporting the whole child here at West Ottawa and Milo is just going to be another staff member, another avenue for us to support our kiddos. We have over 500 kids in the building, and he is going to be a dog that walks this elementary (school) journey with them,” Stefanich said.

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