New Four-Legged Friend Provides Social-Emotional Therapy to Fortis Academy Students

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February 21, 2020 by HCDE-Texas

Before the Christmas break, Fortis Academy Principal Anthony Moten thought it would be a good idea to have a therapy pet at the school to help with students’ social-emotional needs. Fortis is Harris County’s first public high school for students recovering with alcohol and drug abuse addiction.

Fortis English Teacher Rachel Finley was out with her husband at a lumber yard one day and came across a small, black, mixed-breed dog. She asked a worker if it was his, and he said no that she just showed up.

“He told me I could take her home, so we did,” Finley said. “She was really good with my kids at home, and thought she would be the same with our Fortis students.”

She messaged Moten about the one-and-a-half-year-old chihuahua-yorkie mix and decided to see how she would interact with the students. When school started back in January, Finley took the newly named Allie to school and was pleased about how she did with everyone.

“She did great, and it was like she was born to be here at Fortis,” Finley said. “We definitely found our Fortis pet.”

In the morning she gets excited when the students start arriving and jumps on them as they enter the school. Allie goes from class to class greeting the students and teachers throughout the day while wearing one of her many Fortis Academy shirts.

“She’s really cute and good with all of us,” said senior Karen Espinoza.

“Allie’s a loveable dog,” sophomore Yadhira Martinez said.

The main goal for Allie while on campus is to help students with emotional therapy. Staff and students have noticed the school environment has been happy since Allie has been on campus. Finley doesn’t take Allie to school when it’s raining, and they see the effects of her not being there.

“That first day I didn’t bring her we were all just having a bad day, and students kept telling me that I should have brought Allie,” she said.

“I was one of those students that asked for Allie that day,” said sophomore Julian Guerrero. “She definitely changes our mood.”

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