Companion Animals Should Be Part of Portsmouth High School’s Future

Sadie Alati, PaperClip Staff/ Writer

During COVID, there was a rise in the adoption of animals. According to, the increase of both dog and cat adoptions was up to 250%. Many reported that having a pet during the pandemic improved their well-being and self-esteem. 


According to a study, 83% of parents believe a pet helped their child feel less lonely, and 73% felt their pet reduced stress caused by isolation away from classmates, according to


Overall, it was found that in the study by, 9 in 10 parents believe their pet has positively impacted their child’s experience with remote education and more than half report having a pet improves their child’s academic performance and motivation for virtual schoolwork.


Since there are so many benefits of having an animal at home, this bears the question of whether or not animals should be incorporated into schools. The National Institutes of Health found that having animals in the classroom can have a positive impact on learning by directly increasing motivation, engagement, self-regulation, and human social interaction. 


While there should be serious thought into providing trained therapy animals for students, companion animals in schools would expand opportunities for children to benefit from animal interaction beyond just those fortunate to have pets at home. 


Pet Partners, a leading organization in demonstrating and promoting the health and wellness benefits of animal-assisted therapy, activities, and education has been working since 1977 to promote the use of animals in schools. 


In an article by, they write that over the past year, a consistent majority of parents of public school students have supported rethinking what education looks like after the pandemic, and the infusion of financial support from the federal government has schools searching for ways to spend this new funding. Three-quarters of parents support schools investing more to bring intentional pet interaction into the traditional classroom setting. 


The idea of welcoming companion animals into schools, specifically Portsmouth High School, may be hard to make a reality, but the work should be done to include companion animals. With the recent gun related threats at PHS, many students could have used the help from companion animals. Many were anxious and stressed during these happenings, which is exactly what animals would help with. From Western Governors University, statistics show time and time again that animals can help relieve stress and anxiety, and regulate breathing and heart rates. A pet in a classroom can provide a sense of peace and calm. There is plenty of good that animals bring that students could greatly benefit from, but what could be the worry?


The opposing side could argue that some children are allergic and are not comfortable around certain animals. Having companion animals in schools is a big responsibility for those in charge. Although these concerns are reasonable, the pros outweigh the cons; Portsmouth Public Library uses companion animals for storytime with kids. Animals bring comfort to students that guidance counselors can’t. 


Sometimes talking to a counselor is just not enough and having companion animals available at the school could help tremendously. Having animals in schools is considered a nontraditional idea, but as we embrace the “new normal” that COVID left behind, maybe now is the time to reflect on what was learned during the pandemic and look at incorporating companion animals in our schools.