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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Therapy pets offer WSU Spokane students a break during exams

Nursing student MacKenzie Iverson’s voice rose an octave as she greeted and cuddled a therapy dog Tuesday on Washington State University Spokane’s campus.

“This is the best stress reliever ever,” Iverson said during a break in her final exams.

The Spokane Humane Society brought five friendly dogs, a cuddly cat and a crate of 3-week-old kittens to WSU Spokane on Tuesday to give students a mental break during the intense end-of-year week. The activity was one of several planned by the Associated Students of WSU during finals week.

“As anyone could imagine, this is a pretty stressful time,” said Scott Hippe, WSU Spokane student president. “Everything comes to a head in one week for us to prove what we’ve learned (on paper).”

Allison Wheeler had just finished a final and saw the animals in the student union office. “We were drawn to them,” the nutrition and exercise physiology major said. “I think this is a great idea.”

Studies going back to the 1980s have shown dogs and other animals can reduce stress, lower blood pressure and reduce depression.

Students’ reaction on Tuesday seemed to prove that. As soon as students entered the office, they were greeted by one of the three boxers or the Boston terrier mix or the French bulldog. Oscar, a three-legged, fluffy tabby, waited for people to join him on the couch.

“It just gets your mind off it for a while,” speech-pathology major Madison Creel said. She stopped by just minutes before taking a final. “It’s nice to have a mental break.”

The Spokane Humane Society started offering the stress-reducing service to schools last year. Jenna Carroll, the volunteer/foster coordinator, expects to also take the dogs and cats to Gonzaga and Whitworth universities.

“We’ll go anywhere people ask us to as long as we can make it work,” Carroll said. The dogs and cats all belong to Spokane Humane Society staff members. “It’s been great.”

On top of the visit from cats and dogs, the college is hosting a catered breakfast this morning and movies and popcorn today and Thursday.

Hippe said, “It’s good to remind students they are still human beings; it’s still enjoyable just to live.”