Media Advisory: Therapy dogs to give “fur fix” to students facing finals

ATTENTION: General assignment and higher education reporters, photo desks, TV producers

NOTE: Great opportunity for visuals

ARC pet therapy dog

ARF pet therapy dog on campus

WHAT: As UC Berkeley students study for final exams, pet therapy dogs from Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF) will visit campus to relieve students’ stress. Volunteers and their Pet Hug Pack dogs will be stationed outside Moffitt Library, where students are hitting the books this week before finals, which run from May 7-11.

“Studies show that interaction with animals lowers blood pressure, reduces anxiety, improves physical and mental health, and gives a feeling of well-being. The dogs will provide students with a huge stress relief, a wonderful fur fix and unconditional love,” said Pat Mills, ARF coordinator of the pet therapy program. 

WHEN: 12 noon to 1 p.m. Monday, April 30.

WHERE: Outside Moffitt Library, in front of the Free Speech Movement Café http://www.berkeley.edu/map/3dmap/3dmap.shtml?moffitt

WHO: Available to reporters will be Aaron Cohen, senior staff psychologist at University Health Services (UHS); two campus student health workers; and Elena Bicker, executive director of ARF. Four teams of ARF volunteers, all of them UC Berkeley alumni, and their dogs will interact with students.

DETAILS: University Health Services has invited ARF pet therapy dogs to campus for many events throughout the year, including before finals.  It offers other stress management help to students, including workshops, reminders about getting enough sleep and managing their time, and counseling.

But the dogs “give instant stress relief,” said Kim LaPean, UHS communications manager. “When they see these dogs, they just melt, throw their bookbags down and put their arms around them. Many students miss their pets, and they can’t have pets in their dorms, so this is a nice way for them to get that love during a stressful time in the academic year.”

The ARF is a non-profit, Contra Costa County organization that rescues animals that might otherwise be euthanized; facilitates spaying, neutering and adoptions; provides pet food to the needy; and runs “people programs” like the Pet Hug Pack. Some 135 human-pet teams make 280 visits a week to nearly 70 local organizations including medical centers, assisted living facilities, schools and libraries.

It was set up in 1991 by former Oakland A’s manager Tony La Russa and his wife, Elaine, who were inspired to help stray and abandoned animals after the couple tried unsuccessfully to find a no-kill facility in the East Bay for a homeless cat that had wandered into the ballpark.