Communities In Schools: Friends With Paws Premieres Oct. 17

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CHARLESTON, WV — WVPB Television proudly announces the premiere of Communities In Schools: Friends with Paws. The half-hour television program will appear Monday, Oct. 17 at 9 p.m. on West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s TV channel and on YouTube.

“Communities in Schools (CIS) is a tremendous program designed to help our students succeed, stay in school and prepare for life,” said Butch Antolini, Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director for West Virginia Public Broadcasting. “We are honored to have the opportunity to be involved with the CIS effort in West Virginia and the incredible growth it has experienced since First Lady Cathy Justice and the Governor got involved in 2017. It is exciting to bring this television documentary, focusing on the next step in this program, to the airwaves.”

This broadcast features the Friends with Paws pilot project introducing therapy dogs in 10 West Virginia public schools to aid in the counseling and comforting of students. The Friends with Paws project is championed by West Virginia’s First Lady Cathy Justice and is part of the expanding CIS program. Featured in the television program are therapy dog deliveries to Welch Elementary and Lewis County High School.

“I am thrilled with West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s interest in our Friends with Paws initiative, and the tremendous effort by their incredibly talented team,” stated First Lady Cathy Justice. “The documentary is full of touching stories they saw firsthand from traveling along with us as we placed therapy dogs in CIS sites this past Spring. I encourage everyone to watch on their local WVPB station and learn how this initiative is touching the lives of students in schools across the Mountain State. I know that as more people see this initiative in action, they too will understand the power of the unconditional love shown by these dogs.”

Communities In Schools: Friends With Paws

By December 2022, therapy dogs are scheduled to be delivered to: Lewis County High School, Welch Elementary, McDowell County, Buckhannon Academy, Upshur County; Pineville Elementary, Wyoming County, Moorefield Elementary, Hardy County, Spring Mills High School, Berkeley County, Wayne Elementary, Wayne County, Lenore PK-8th Grade, Mingo County, Green Bank Elementary-Middle School, Pocahontas County, and Greenbrier East High, Greenbrier County.

The Friends with Paws program was first introduced by Gov. Jim Justice and First Lady Cathy Justice in March 2022 with the goal to place certified therapy dogs in schools across the state, providing companionship and comfort for students in need of a boost. The program is a partnership between the Governor’s Office, West Virginia Communities In Schools (CIS), and the West Virginia Department of Education.

Communities In Schools: Friends with Paws is Part 2 of a production effort by WVPB to focus on the Communities in Schools program in West Virginia. Part 1, Communities In Schools: Extending a Helping Hand, premiered in November 2021. You can view Communities in Schools: Extending a Helping Hand online at

West Virginia’s Communities in Schools is currently active in 36 West Virginia counties. The non-profit is part of a national youth‐serving and dropout prevention organization. The mission of the state and national organization is to link community resources with public schools, to provide direct services to help young people succeed, stay in school, and prepare for life.

Additional airdates for Communities in Schools: Friends with Paws include:

Monday, Oct. 18 at 9 p.m. on WVPB’s YouTube Channel

Tuesday, Oct. 18 at 7 p.m. on the West Virginia Channel

Sunday, Oct. 23 at 12 p.m. on the West Virginia Public Broadcasting Channel

Sunday, Oct. 23 at 10 p.m. on the West Virginia Channel