Alpha Phi Omega hosts Angel Paws

Connecticut junior Emily Gackstatter feeds a treat to therapy dog, Tara, an Australian Shepard and Pyrenees mix. Tara had previously been injured as a stray with a nail gun and underwent surgery to have a nail removed from her right hind leg. She has since been recovering and has been able to continue training as a therapy dog, as a part of the Anti-Bully Program of Angel Paws of Waco. Photo credit: Liesje Powers

Faith Miletello | Reporter

Service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega hosted the APO and Angel Paws event Tuesday on Fountain Mall.

APO is a co-educational service fraternity holding formal recruitment next week.

The group brought Angel Paws on campus to allow students to relieve stress by petting the therapy dogs, while learning more about service opportunities through the organization.

The Waco non-profit is that provides trained therapy dogs to people and organizations. The dogs are trained through the national Pet Partners organization.

Dlaine Miley, a recent graduate of Baylor, volunteers as an Angel Paws dog handler. Miley and her therapy dog O’Riley were part of the Angel Paws team that came to Fountain Mall on Tuesday.

Miley adopted the German Shepherd-Border Collie mix from the Waco Humane Society and decided to put him in obedience training.

“The dog has to have a certain temperament to be suited for being a therapy dog,” Miley said. “My obedience trainer recommended my dog, and we got him certified through Pet Partners and then got involved with Angel Paws.”

To become a registered therapy dog, the handler and dog must complete the Pet Partner training.

“Pet Partners walks you through steps of how you react in certain situations,” Miley said. “Then the dog has to go through an obstacle course of sorts where they deal with lots of people petting them; they deal with children, loud noises and anything they may run into. You have to make sure they can handle it.”

There are extensive benefits of human interaction with animals that include positive influences on health and a decrease in stress, according to the Pet Partners website. A study conducted by Taylor and Francis Health Sciences on the correlation between stress reduction and animal interaction showed a scientific emotional and cognitive change when those in stressful situations were given time to spend with animals.

The members of APO hoped students would stop by their table to get a brief reprieve from the stress of class to play with the Angel Paws dogs.

The fraternity requires 36 hours of service per semester for each member. They offer various types of service projects to attend and they have social events.

“During the week, we have daily service projects where we can go to get our service hours. We love to have community and serve others,” Chicago sophomore Jillian Deboer said.

To learn more information about Alpha Phi Omega, visit their Facebook page. To learn more about Angel Paws or Pet Partner click on their links.