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Milford Autism Unit Matched with Service Dog

Posted on: February 8, 2018
Buffy MHS service dog

For two years, Milford intervention specialist Trena Panko has led a campaign to bring a service dog to her classroom at Milford High School. Mrs. Panko teaches in the Autism Behavior Unit, a specialized classroom serving students on the Autism Spectrum.

“We have finally been blessed with our service dog match from 4 Paws for Ability. We are so happy and cannot wait to bring home our much-awaited and loved Autism Assistance Facility Dog,” Mrs. Panko said.

Buffy, a three-year-old Golden Lab, has been assigned to Milford. Mrs. Panko and her students will have their first opportunity to meet Buffy on Monday, February 12, at 4 Paws for Ability in Xenia, Ohio.  Mrs. Panko will remain in Xenia for 10 days to go through an intensive training and test before Buffy’s official graduation on February 23. Buffy, who stays with the Pankos, will start her first day at Milford High School on February 26.

Buffy was born on January 24, 2015 and attended the 4 Paws Puppy Enrichment Program and has lived in four different 4 Paws Foster Homes. Most recently she has been in advanced training learning to be an Autism Assistance Facility Dog.

Buffy is unique because she is not assigned to just one student, but will be assisting a classroom of students in the Autism Behavior Unit. Students from the unit will be going individually to 4 Paws to spend time with Buffy before she arrives in their classroom at the end of the month. It is the first time in the history of 4 Paws that an assistance dog has been assigned to an entire classroom in a public school.

“We believe Buffy will help us with behaviors caused by the many challenges that accompany Autism- including, communication, sensory challenges, behavioral challenges, safety and security issues, care and comfort for the anxiety that also comes as part of the Autism Spectrum Disorder," Mrs. Panko added.