Petting away a ruff week

BY EMILY NESS | the Statesman It has been said time and time again that dogs are a man’s best friend.

For many young adults, entering college and being away from home often means saying goodbye to their pet(s). This can be just as devastating, if not more devastating, than saying goodbye to their family and friends.

The University of Minnesota Duluth hopes to ease this transition through ‘Pet Away Worry and Stress,’ or PAWS.

Sponsored by UMD Health Services, the Katherine A. Martin Library, KUMD Radio and Animal Allies, the university brings animals to campus once a month for students to play with and relieve stress.

“There is this unique thing that happens during (PAWS) … Looking around, I often see people smiling and laughing. It is a positive environment. The animals truly brighten people’s day,” Rachel M. Gilbertson, lifestyle health coach said.

Seniors Ali Mueller and Morgan Inman are interns at the Employee Health and Wellness Center.

“People light up in the hallway when they see that PAWS is on campus. For many who are away from their pet, it provides comfort,” Ali Mueller, public health education and promotion major said.

This motivates those involved.

“We have done surveys in the past to see what types of animals students would like to attend. So far we have had dogs, cats, a hedgehog and even a miniature horse,” Gilbertson said.

PAWS is open to students, staff and the public.

“Over the years, we have had anywhere from 500-1200 people participate in the event,” Gilbertson said.

In addition to this, surveys also show that those who attend PAWS feel better afterwards.

“A survey as of January 2016 showed that students and faculty have on average rated themselves to be 38% less stressed after hanging out with their furry friends,” Morgan Inman, communication major and healthcare management minor said.

The event has been a success.

“One of the things that we are working on is writing biographies for the animals that routinely come,” Inman said. “We feel like it would be cool for people to read about the animals’ histories because many of them do have histories.”

Many of the animals were rescued. All of the animals, however, are certified therapy animals.

Sometimes when a person is down, all it takes is a lick to the face or a sweet cuddle from a furry friend to lift their spirits.

For more information visit the UMD Health Services website, in which a schedule containing a variety of furry friends is posted for the 2016 school year.


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