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Students at Stetson Law manage stress with therapy dogs during exam time

Duncan shares some puppy love with Stetson Law students in the Dolly & Homer Hand Law Library.

Students at Stetson University College of Law in Gulfport, Fla., have an opportunity to alleviate stress while preparing for exams this semester with the help of some very special therapy dogs. Registered therapy dogs and their handlers are available in the atrium of the Dolly & Homer Hand Law Library to work with law students for about an hour each day for seven days during the exam period through mid-December.

Hans, a registered therapy dog, visits students during the exam period.

“All of us in the library sympathize with the stress that law students face around exam time,” said Professor Rebecca Trammell, director of the law library at Stetson. “We hope that this project will provide a relaxing change of pace for our students.”

All of the dogs are different breeds and sizes, and registered with Therapy Dogs International, a volunteer organization dedicated to regulating, testing and registration of therapy dogs and their volunteer handlers.

“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,” said Professor Peter Fitzgerald, an expert in international and commercial law and animal law who has been involved with Golden Retriever rescue for close to 15 years.

Alumna Amanda Hanson visits with Brando during the dog therapy program at Stetson.

“Both their training and work is different from that associated with a service animal, but the benefits – such as decreased blood pressure and stress levels and improved overall emotional well-being – have been demonstrated in numerous studies over many years,” said Professor Fitzgerald. “Making therapy dogs available to help manage stress during our students’ exams is just a logical extension of the role they serve elsewhere.”

Professor Fitzgerald brought his dog Duncan, Professor Ellen Podgor brought her dog Hans, and Stetson Law alumna Amanda Hanson brought her dog Brando to the library at Stetson Law in Gulfport to work with students. All are trained therapy dogs.

Brando, a four-year-old rescued German Shepherd dog, was the first therapy dog to accompany a witness into a deposition in the 6th circuit court. Hanson is coordinator for Pawsibilities Registered Therapy Dogs, a program she started while she was still in law school at Stetson that works with local law enforcement and the 6th judicial circuit to provide therapy dogs at no cost for minor victims of crime as they brave the court process.

Learn more about Brando and Amanda’s first visit to the Stetson therapy dog program here.

Post date: Dec. 7, 2011

Media contact: Brandi Palmer | 727-562-7381 office | 727-430-1580 cell

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