First Lady Cathy Justice hosts Take a Paws to Read at the Governor’s Mansion


First Lady Cathy Justice hosts Take a Paws to Read at the Governor’s Mansion

CHARLESTON, WV - First Lady Cathy Justice hosted Take a Paws to Read at the Governor’s Mansion today, highlighting the significance of reading and celebrating the role of therapy dogs.

The event aimed to encourage students to pause and continue reading during the summer months, maintaining their reading skills.

“Reading is so important for student success, and our Take a Paws to Read event demonstrated the enjoyment that reading can bring,” First Lady Justice said. “We want students to keep reading during the summer and discover the joy that books can bring.”

Third-grade students from Bridgeview Elementary in Kanawha County and Wayne Elementary in Wayne County joined the event, accompanied by their respective Friends With Paws therapy dogs, Louie and Winnie. 

These therapy dogs have become cherished members of their school community, providing comfort and de-escalating emotional situations. They create a safe and non-judgmental space where students can practice their reading skills and share their stories with attentive and supportive companions.

“Our 3rd grade students could not have been more proud and excited to attend the lawn party and lunch,” Principal of Wayne Elementary Melissa Maynard said. “The campaign to encourage students to read during the summer promotes what we wish for each student to do during the summer. Having Winnie be a part of it made it even more special to be there.”
The Friends With Paws program places certified therapy dogs in several schools across the state, providing companionship and comfort for students in need of a boost. Since April 2022, twelve Friends With Paws therapy dogs have been placed in Communities In Schools (CIS) schools across the state.

CIS aims to forge community partnerships and bring resources into schools to help remove barriers to student learning with the goal of keeping all students in school and ultimately graduating.

In 2018, First Lady Justice started the CIS program in three pilot counties. Since then, the program has expanded to include 208 schools in 38 counties.

The event included engaging activities and a scavenger hunt on the Governor’s Mansion grounds. Also in attendance were special guests, West Virginia State Superintendent of Schools David Roach and Truist West Virginia Regional President Patrick O’Malley, who commended the impact of the CIS and the Friends With Paws program.

Contact Information

Jordan Damron,; CJ Harvey,


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