Studies show that interactions with therapy animals decrease stress in humans. With this knowledge, Stevenson University’s People for Animal Wellness Society (PAWS) will host volunteer therapy dogs for students and faculty to take a break from all the demanding aspects of life, several times this semester.
According to AnimalSmart.org, “Petting and playing with animals can increase levels of the stress-reducing hormone, oxytocin, and decrease production of the stress-producing hormone, cortisol.”
PAWS President Rachael Steelman said, “It’s satisfying to watch everyone de-stress when interacting with the dogs. That is part of the reason why PAWS will host more events with dogs on campus this semester.”
Prior to the PAWS members’ efforts, there had been very few events featuring real animals on campus. PAWS members investigated further as they listened to other student requests for animal visits. The club Pets on Wheels, a non-profit organization, had a mission to “bring therapy dogs to different facilities for friendly visits.”
The PAWS club recognizes the interests of the Stevenson community and is working in tandem with Pets on Wheels to bring volunteer therapy dogs to different places on campus throughout the semester. With a significant turnout of over 200 people at the events last year, PAWS will be hosting not one, but four events during the semester featuring therapy dogs available for all to enjoy.
Sophomore Kasey Ryan, the club’s online public relations and social media chair, explained that she believes these events have impacted the Stevenson community since being around the dogs even for a short period of time can positively affect the outcome of someone’s day.
The dogs are brought on a volunteer basis, so the club doesn’t know the exact breeds that will be present until the day of the event. However, all of the dogs are certified therapy dogs. Previous breeds featured at the events included Golden Retrievers, American Bulldogs, Labs, Miniature Pinchers and a few others.
This semester the first event will be on Monday, March 20, in Cuvilly, the Faculty Exchange, on the Greenspring campus from 11:30 a.m-1:30 p.m. The next two events will be on the Owings Mills campus in April and May. The dates and times are currently being confirmed. One of the final events will be on Tuesday, May 2 from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. in the Faculty Exchange on the Greenspring campus.