Thea Digiammerino

Quinnipiac Brings in Therapy Animals to Help Students Cope With Finals Stress

Quinnipiac students studying occupational therapy organized the day for their peers as part of an animal therapy course.

Amid the chaos of finals and upcoming graduation, three miniature horses and a therapy dog visited Quinnipiac Monday to help ease some stress.

“It feels good to pet animals and come outside a little bit,” said biomedical sciences student Puja Patel.

“We’re just here to decrease some stress and anxiety for the upcoming stuff this week,” said Granby-raised Emily Jackson, who is currently studying for three finals and a practical exam.

Quinnipiac students studying occupational therapy organized the day for their peers as part of an animal therapy course.

“This event is perfectly placed right before finals to help calm reduce some stress get a little mindful and just enjoy your day,” said Nicholas Donohue, a fifth-year graduate student in the class.

And the fun is not just for stressed-out students. Mike Cole, who works in admissions at the medical school, says sometimes staff members need a stress-reliever, too.

“Whenever I see the horses, sometimes we’ve had goats come— I just like going out and petting them and stuff like that, just bring some joy to my day particularly on a beautiful day like today,” Cole said.

But they’re not just cute and cuddly, there are actual proven scientific benefits to hanging out with these guys.

“Some studies have shown that animals can give a sensory benefit of touching the animal, being near it, the unconditional love that’s involved with it,” says Occupational Therapy Professor Donna Latella.

Latella says simply petting these animals can positively affect your mental and physical health.

“It can calm, relieve stress, decrease blood pressure, it can increase confidence, even motivational for some people who may not like maybe traditional occupational therapy in a clinic,” she said.

It’s proven to be particularly beneficial to people with physical and social disabilities, according to Latella.

That’s why students from the Cheshire Quinnipiac Transition Collaborative were invited too. The program that prepares young adults on the autism spectrum for adulthood.

“They feel soft to me,” said one of the students in the program, David Rochow.

His friend, Olivia Huang, said petting the animals made her feel “much better.”

It was a timely visit for all, made better by the good weather, and as an early celebration to National Therapy Animal Day on Tuesday!

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