University of Connecticut students can participate in the Student Health and Wellness Center’s pet therapy events every Wednesday to interact with well-trained therapy dogs. The event is located inside Wilson Hall, but students can also visit the Benton for a similar experience on the first Thursday of every month.
According to Karen McComb, director of health promotion and community impact for SHaW, there are studies that show the impact pets can have on our mental health.
“Being in the same room as a pet can reduce stress, it is an evidence informed practice,” McComb said.
Amara Cote, a first-semester marketing major, was one of the students who attended the event. She said she decided to go to pet therapy because she missed her dog at home.
“I have a dog at home, and I really miss her because I don’t go home too often because I live two hours away,” Cote said.
Susan Glenney was the first of the two volunteers scheduled for this Wednesday’s event. She brought Mica, her five-year-old golden retriever, labrador and shar pei mix.
Glenney said Mica is very comfortable with students, and she thinks pet therapy is a great way for students to de-stress.
“If it helps them and it gives them a little stress relief, especially when exams come and they’re missing home, then Mica is happy to do it,” Glenney said.
McComb says SHaW works with Tails of Joy to provide students with quality volunteers.
“Students should expect to have a really great therapy dog that is well-trained and a great volunteer,” McComb said.
According to the Tails of Joy website, the organization trains volunteers to conduct pet therapy visits “throughout Hartford, Tolland and Windham counties and neighboring towns in Connecticut.”
McComb said pet therapy is one of their “most beloved programs,” and the event had a big turnout this semester; every week about 150-200 students attend.
When students arrive at the event, they should expect to sign in using a QR code, after which a Student Health and Wellness Specialist will admit 15 students at a time for 15-minute intervals to ensure everyone’s safety.
McComb said the event goes from 4:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m., and they have one therapy dog for each hour, totaling two dogs for every event.