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From surfing to sniffing out cancer, what can’t dogs do? Now, USA Today reports that a number of school programs across the country are using dogs to teach kids empathy and compassion in an effort to help curb school bullying. 

“The animals are the glue that helps the children stay focused and understand the message,” says Jo Dean Hearn, an ex-teacher who developed the program. “Children can easily identify with an animal. And it’s easy for them to transition when we ask them to consider how an animal feels (if ill treated) to how the kid sitting near them feels (if poorly treated).”

The best part? The programs seem to work.

Photo: Robin Nelson/ZUMA Press/Corbis

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