By Allyssa Schoonover
With finals week approaching students will be hitting the books, but this semester they will be able to cozy up next to some furry friends. A nonprofit organization called Angel Paws will bring therapy dogs from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Wednesday through Friday to Moody Memorial Library basement.
“We want students to come on over and pet and hug the dogs,” said Sandy Witliff the president of Angel Paws, Sandy Witliff. “Maybe it will give them that second wind to keep studying.”
Angel Paws has been trying to come to campus for some time. Beth Farwell, the associate director of the central libraries has been in contact with Angel Paws and with Baylor to coordinate this event. She said she had to deal with the risk management concerns and talk with student life, but by pointing to other universities, like Rice University, that have done this before she was able to get it approved. If this is successful during finals week this semester, they plan to continue it in the future.
Bringing dogs to the library brought up many concerns. The last thing Angel Paws or the library wants to do is distract students from their studies Farwell said. This is why they chose the location in Moody basement near the elevators. Students will be able to easily avoid the area if they don’t have the desire to interact with the dogs. Witliff also emphasized the fact that these dogs are very calm and will not bark.
“The dogs can really calm people down,” Witliff said. “The students will have to come to us, so we shouldn’t bother anyone.”
Farwell said the dogs are used to big events so having a lot of students around them won’t be a problem.
“It’s a win win all around,” Farwell said. “There’s no stress from the libraries or Angel Paws.”
Angel Paws is a nonprofit organization that has been in operation since 2003. The volunteers for this program register their dogs through a program called pet partners. They participate in a workshop and are evaluated. Witliff said they do not care about breed or whether a dog is rescued, the only thing they care about is temperament. Angel Paws has about 34 owners and 37 dogs that volunteer. They will bring two to six of them to the library each of the three nights.
Witliff said she is very excited to finally bring Angel Paws to campus. She said her dog, Yeti, and another volunteer’s dog Remington love college students.
“We call them the frat boys because they love college students, especially girls,” Witliff said.
Many medical sources, including a study by the University of Tennessee, state that petting animals physically reduces cortisol levels that are associated with stress, as well as lower heart rate and blood pressure.
“Even if it lifts your spirits for a moment then it’s successful,” Farwell said.