Animals to come to campus for stress

Studies show that having a pet to hold and talk to can ease anxiety for students

The animals will be on campus for one day in both November and December.
The animals will be on campus for one day in both November and December.

Students looking to alleviate stress this exam season will soon have the opportunity to do so through an unusual resource.

The AMS is pairing with Lost Paws and the St. John Ambulance to bring animals to the JDUC in an attempt to reduce student stress. On site will be therapy dogs, cats and rabbits.

The initiative will occur over two days, one in November and one during the December exam period, although final dates have yet to be decided.

The dogs will come from the St. John Ambulance’s therapy program. According to their website, therapy dogs help reduce feelings of loneliness, depression and anxiety in people.

The dogs can also assist with prescribed therapy and lowering blood pressure.

The therapy dogs normally travel to retirement homes and hospitals, but trainers have recently been adding Queen’s to their visiting roster.

“These dogs are just ordinary dogs,” said St. John Ambulance therapy dog coordinator Monique Grambin-White.

“[They’re] certified by the St. John ambulance and their role is to come into contact with people to reduce stress.”

She said because so many students have pets at home, she thinks the program brings comfort to the students who come to pet and talk to the dogs. While St. John’s Ambulance will be supplying the dogs, the kittens and the rabbits will be coming from the Kingston Humane Society. The animal shelter will select the animals that are the most conditioned to people.

Last year, ASUS Lost Paws came up with this idea when they heard that the AMS was also contemplating something similar. Together, they’ve been planning the event to take place in Wallace Hall sometime in early November.

The event will be free but a donation box will be available, with proceeds going to the Kingston Humane Society.

Funding for the project will come out of the AMS special project budget, which totals approximately $5,600.

“This is a great market to tell people how to relieve stress,” AMS Academic Affairs Commissioner Isabelle Duchaine said. “Having pets around is physiologically proven to reduce stress.”

According to the National Research Centre’s website, pets help improve the health and well being of their owners.

Their research shows that people with pets at home made less visits to the doctors and had a lower blood pressure and lower anxiety.

Pamphlets will be distributed at the event with information about the grievance centers at Queen’s, the Kingston Animal Shelter and St. John Ambulance.

Lost Paws advocates responsible pet ownership, and is run by Kaila Elders and Lisa Liu, both ArtSci ’14.

“We just want to give students a break,” Elders said. “We encourage the students to come out and cuddle the animals.”


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