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New Jersey Senate Bill 1253 seeks to create a three-year pilot program to assess the academic and health benefits associated with the use of therapy dogs in public elementary school wellness programs.  The American Kennel Club (AKC) strongly supports S.1253; and encourages New Jersey residents to express their support of S.1253 with the members of the Senate Education Committee, which is scheduled to consider the bill on Thursday, February 15, 2024.

AKC strongly supports the training and use of dogs by humans, whose lives are enriched by dogs’ performing essential services.  Dogs provide a wide variety of valuable services including: handicapped assistance dogs; drug, bomb, and arson detection dogs; and tracking dogs to locate missing persons and fugitives.

A therapy dog can provide a valuable sense of reassurance, joy, or calmness to people experiencing stressful, lonely, or depressing situations, and in other times in their lives. Therapy work involves volunteers who schedule visits to various locations–including nursing homes, classrooms, libraries, assisted-living centers, hospices, funeral homes, schools, shelters, and courtrooms–to provide comfort and companionship.  Whether working with a child who is learning to read or visiting a patient in a hospital or a senior in an assisted living facility, therapy dogs and their owners work together as a team to improve the lives of other people.  AKC proudly encourages the continuation and further development of the use of dogs for these and similar purposes, including through the three-year pilot program proposed by S.1253.

Support S.1253 By Contacting the Senate Education Committee 

New Jersey residents are strongly encouraged to contact the Senate Education Committee to express support for Senate Bill 1253.  To email all committee members, send messages of support to

Individual committee members may be contacted as follows:

Senator Vin Gopal, Chair – (732) 695-3371,
Senator Shirley K. Turner, Vice Chair – (609) 323-7239,
Senator Kristen M. Corrado – 973-237-1360,
Senator Owen Henry – (732) 607-7580,
Senator Angela V. McKnight – (201) 360-2502,

For More Information

AKC Government Relations (GR) will continue to provide updates on S.1253 and other New Jersey legislation as developments warrant.  For more information, contact AKC GR at