Furry friends provide finals season support

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As students and faculty reach the end of the semester, the Rowan campus sees more of the four-legged friends who provide ease and support during hard times. The Schreiber Family Pet Therapy Program is to help improve the lives of students and the Rowan community through the use of Animal Assisted Therapy. 

Assistant Director Michele Pich built the program in the fall of 2019 after the generous three million endowment of Gerry Schreiber and his family allowed The Wellness Center to create the program in the first place. Providing students with a source of social and emotional support by providing clinical and non-clinical animal-assisted interventions to students at five different Rowan-affiliated campuses. The therapy dogs aid with stressful situations both anticipated and not anticipated. 

Every week the Pet Therapy program hosts Wagging Tail Tuesday at the Campbell Library between 2-3 p.m. One dog in particular you can find is Cinder, a 2-year-old Red Fox Labrador who has been a joy to the people she comes in contact with. Cinder has been certified as a therapy dog since she was a year old. Pet Therapist Georgeann Batten who sees after Cinder has been with the program for over a year. 

“Cinder greatly benefits the students. She calms students who may need comfort and everyone loves her,” said Batten.

Interim Director Nancy Demaris said, “The Pet Therapy is nice for students who live on campus who have a dog back home and can also pet a dog here. Over time we have been able to increase the visitations at the library which is a nice way for students to come down and destress. It is an important initiative to help the students.” 

The Assistant Vice President for Community Health and Well-being Scott Woodside said, “The dogs play a vital role on campus. Students dealing with loss, going through a hard time. The dogs also provide individual therapy sessions for students, faculty, and staff.” 

Student Sara Walziki who came across the Wagging Tail Tuesday event said “When having a rough day, it helped me to be at ease and divert my attention to the dog. It was a great way to have mental and emotional comfort.” 

The dogs provide a welcoming comfort for all of us who need a friend and to distract from the business of the semester. Rowan University is one of the only known universities to have a dedicated Pet Therapy program involving therapists, volunteers, and staff committed to providing support to the community and bringing smiles to everyone.

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