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Therapy Dogs Help Law Students De-Stress

Four-year-old Brando is an active, friendly and loving dog. His mom, Amanda Hanson, says he loves to go to the beach, play in the water and even go snorkeling with her. But, Brando is not only affectionate with his owner, he provides comfort to others as a therapy dog.

This month, Brando is visiting students at the Law Library at Stetson University College of Law. He is one of three furry faces that has been invited to the University to help students de-stress, relax and take a break during exam time.

"He brings smiles," Hanson said. Others agree that the therapy dog program this fall is a success. Law students Lauren Senninger and Max Holzbaur took a break and gave Brando plenty of pets and cuddles, saying it was great to have him there.

Brando and his mom Amanda Hanson, Dog Trainer and Stetson Law Alumna, spent time at the library on Tuesday and will be back on Monday, Dec. 12, from 11:15 - 12 p.m.

Brando is one of three dogs that took part in the pilot program this fall. Certified therapy dogs Duncan and Hans spent time with students in November and early December.

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Stetson's therapy dog program was spearheaded by law professor Peter Fitzgerald, an animal law expert who has been involved with Golden Retriever rescue for close to 15 years.

"Trained therapy animals and handlers provide animal-assisted activities or animal-assisted therapy in a wide range of settings including hospitals, hospices, disaster sites, schools, shelters and many other places," Fitzgerald said.

When Brando isn't spending time at the University or hanging out with his mom, he's helping families and children going through the court system. "We average two cases a month," Hanson says.

Hanson coordinates Pawsibilities Registered Therapy Dogs, an innovative program that works with local law enforcement and the court to provide therapy dogs free of charge to young victims.

Brando was the first therapy dog to accompany a witness at a deposition in the 6th circuit court.

Hanson says Brando's help with chidren and families helps her "feel a lot of relief, just to make them smile. They really relax. Brando helps the family, victims and advocates."

Whether it's volunteering with the court system or law school, Brando always gets a scoop of ice cream after a hard day's work. His favorite flavors are vanilla and coconut. "Just like his mom," Hanson says.