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"Sully" the autism facility service dog makes his debut at Dunbar Intermediate School

Students at Dunbar Intermediate School compared Friday morning to Christmas as they finally got to meet their long awaited autism service dog that's the first of it's kind in Kanawha County Schools.

The anticipation was everywhere as students sat quietly on the floor knowing they were just minutes away from meeting Sully. They had known for months he was coming and even voted on what his name was going to be.

"This is a huge deal for us," explained principal Jenny Spencer.

Sully has been raised since birth to help decrease anxiety and increase positive behavior in students. He was welcomed with open arms the second the students laid eyes on him.

"Happy that he's here at our school and he's going to be representing the autism and helping the autism and I'm just glad that he's here," explained 5th grader Duane Harris. "He's really cute."

Sully will not only work with autism students but also serve as a therapy dog for the entire student body. However, teachers say his knowledge of specialized commands for special needs students at the school, that also serves as an Autism Center, will go far.

"It's just exciting to know they can relate to him, not just as a working dog, but they can see him as friend. A lot of these kids don't have pets so they can say, 'I have a pet at school!" says teacher Hayley Elias.

"He'll come back and forth to school everyday with me. Once he goes home, he's just a regular dog but once he puts his vest on he's our super service dog," Spencer says.

Sully is the first facility dog to be placed full time in a school in Kanawha County and teachers hope his presence will open the door for more opportunities for other schools down the road.

"Just to know that he's here. He can be in the classroom for rewards, or he can, you know, if kids just need a minute. He can help us. The fact that he's here everyday, and not just when there's a crisis, makes him really special," Spencer says.

Spencer worked with the Kanawha County Commission to secure funding, about $13,000, for Sully's purchase and his facility dog training. She also used her own money to travel to California for her training with Sully.

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