November 2, Introducing the Oxford Wildcat Pack

Dear Wildcat Community,

As part of our Three Year Recovery Plan, we are happy to announce the launch of our own therapy facility dog program called the Oxford Wildcat Pack. Research has shown that providing therapy dogs in an educational environment can support students’ social-emotional learning, improve school attendance, increase self-confidence, and help students build better relationship skills with peers and adults.

Over the past 11 months we have partnered with 4 Pawz Strong (Founder of the Brighton Pack of Dogs) to help us in this endeavor. This group is a non-profit organization who assists school districts across the United States in building their therapy dog programs. The group has helped us raise funds to purchase 12 dogs for our district along with their extensive therapy facility dog training.

Currently four dogs are fully trained and are working in our buildings every day:  Oscar (OMS), Santo (OHS), Al (OHS), and Bean (OHS). Four more will be joining buildings by Christmas and by May, all 12 dogs in the pack will have completed the extensive five phase training course necessary to serve our students and staff. Four dogs will work at the high school and one dog at each of the other district schools.

As our OWP dogs begin to work in our elementary buildings, the volunteer handlers and their therapy dogs who have been in our schools since last December will transition out of the district.  We are extremely grateful to each of these amazing volunteer dogs and their handlers for their impactful and precious service to our students and staff. Their value to our recovery has been priceless. Just like the volunteer dogs, our Oxford Wildcat Pack pups greet students and staff in the hallways, visit classrooms, attend events, and give lots of extra love to students when they need it.

We extend a debt of gratitude to the Oxford staff members who have spent their time organizing our OWP program and those in each building who have taken on the commitment of being a dog handler. They have all welcomed the responsibility of a puppy into their family and have spent many hours in dog training sessions to best serve our students. Additionally, we are grateful to Parker Veterinary Hospital in Oxford for generously donating services for our entire OWP.

Our Oxford Wildcat Pack has begun their own social media page so our school community can see them in action. Additionally, a contest is being held for Oxford High School students to enter design submissions to be chosen for the official OWP logo. See the attached OWP Logo Contest flier for details.

We are excited to help improve the social-emotional and academic wellbeing of our school’s community with our Oxford Wildcat Pack. 

Parents, we do recognize that some families may have questions or concerns about this program and may have students with allergies or a fear of dogs. We completely understand dogs are not for everyone and we do not want any students to feel uncomfortable. It will be important for families to reach out to their student’s teacher or principal with any concerns you may have. Plans can be created on a case-by-case basis to help support any concerns for your child. 


Todd Barlass
Executive Director of Student Services & Wellness