School Bulletin: Time for Turbo

School Bulletin: Time for Turbo

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Students and staff alike are making time for Turbo, the newest addition to Dottke High School in West Allis. He gets plenty of pets and attention during the day, but he's not a mascot. Turbo comes to the school to serve as a therapy dog.

"Looking at the demographic that we serve, we have a lot of high anxiety, at-risk students," Kayleigh Bitters-Bunch, Turbo's handler, says. "If a kid comes in and something happened at home in the morning, it kind of sets the tone for the rest of the day."

4-year-old Turbo became certified as a therapy dog in August, and the timing was perfect. Bitters-Bunch explains that the therapy dogs working at Dottke had retired. Between the pandemic and the struggles of being a teen, Turbo has already been helping students.

"I have a couch in my room, so [students] can go over and sit with Turbo," Bitters-Bunch, says. "[They can] use that as an opportunity to calm themselves and redirect their emotions. Once they're ready, then they're able to go back to class."

Bitters-Bunch says her room is open to anyone, even when she's teaching English classes. But the students have been warned not to be disruptive or let Turbo wander. There's a sign on the classroom door that reads: "Do not let dog out -- Mom will be very upset!" If he's not in class though, Turbo works with the school counselor, who serves as a second handler.

Outside of school, Turbo acts like a normal dog. He barks and plays and has a thing about squirrels, according to Bitters-Bunch. She adopted him from a student, who was moving and couldn't take the dog. Bitters-Bunch says it was love at first sight, and she adds that continued training has been beneficial for both of them.

"It really did turn into a passion project of mine," Bitters-Bunch says. "I'm pushing myself as an educator and as a dog mom."

If you know a remarkable student, teacher or school making a difference in your community -- contact CBS 58 News to be featured in the next School Bulletin.

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