Dogs help students relieve midterm stress at BARC

PUP RELIEF | Baylor students gather at the BARC to pet a dog to relieve their stress. Angel Paws is a therapy dog service that strives to heal people physically, cognitively, emotionally and spiritually. Jason Pedreros | Multimedia Journalist

By Harry Rowe | Staff Writer

Students gathered to pet some pups to relieve stress from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday night at the Beauchamp Addiction Recovery Center (BARC).

The event was put on with Angel Paws, a therapy dog service whose mission is to help motivate people to heal physically, cognitively, emotionally and spiritually from receiving Animal-Assisted Therapy according to their website. The event also included coffee and popsicles.

“Angel Paws does a lot of events in the community, so we go wherever we’re needed, whenever we’re asked,” Karenna Malavanti of Angel Paws said. “Sometimes that’s at the hospital — We work at Providence Hospital as partners. Sometimes it’s with special needs children or at St. Catherine’s, where there is physical therapy that’s occurring.”

Mandi Barnes, an Angel Paws volunteer recalled a heartfelt moment at the hospital in which a lady who had had a stroke and was not eating took a bite of food when told she could pet the dog afterwards.

Angel Paws also goes to the Waco Center for Youth, a juvenile detention center, and hosts reading programs at the library. They serve at no cost because of the impact it has on people.

“We do this all for free as a service to the community because we know what a big impact it is. We see people in the hospital, and it’s not a great place to be — and so to see a dog come in just relieves so much stress,” Malavanti said.

The dogs from the event are volunteer’s pets that become obedience trained once they are accepted into the program. The national organization, Pet Partners, associated with Angel Paws makes sure that the dogs in the program are top notched, according to Malavanti.

“We have an evaluation every two years to make sure that our dogs are really up to par with the standards that the national organization has, and we pass as a team,” Malavanti said. “If the dog doesn’t pass, we don’t pass. If I don’t pass, the dog doesn’t pass, so we pass as a team and we go always together.”

The BARC is for Baylor students to have a community in their different recoveries and addictions, and it has other events similar to this one, according to San Antonio junior Mariah Popa, a student employee at the BARC.

“It’s just another event for people to relax and take some time out of their day for themselves, and I think dogs are a pretty good option for that,” Popa said. “We do a lot of different things. We have meetings for different types of addictions and recovery, and we have moonlight yoga, casual yoga and the dogs.”