Therapy dogs comfort students as they return to school


Fallon Trachtman

Oftentimes when a tragedy occurs, therapy dogs are quickly on site to help with people’s emotional wellbeing and stability.

Dogs are proven to increase peoples’ serotonin levels which coincides with people feeling happier, according to a study at the University of Missouri-Columbia Being around these soft, loving animals can make people happier and calmer, which can help immensely after people have been through a trauma.

Due to the shooting that has recently taken place at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, many students are emotionally distraught. For this reason, therapy dogs have been invited on campus to alleviate stress and comfort students and staff as they cope with their emotions while returning to the school.

“We’re just here to support the community and provide unconditional love that these dogs can give,” Canine Companions employee Cristina Saint-blancan said.

Therapy dogs are not exactly service dogs because they do not perform certain tasks such as turning on lights or guiding people across a busy intersection. Their main task is to comfort people and distract them from conflicting emotions that they may have following a tragedy.

“Feeling a dog, petting a dog, it keeps you in the moment instead of thinking about the past,” PAWS Assistance Dogs employee Sally O’Neill said.

Students have had an overall positive reaction to these fluffy friends roaming around campus. They feel that dogs really help them to feel safe and comfortable while easing back into the routine of daily life.

“Their calming nature helps to calm everyone down. They’re not frantic, they kind of just sit there and you can pet them,” freshman Lea Serrano said.

The dogs will continue to provide support while the school continues to return to a new normal until the end of the students’ second week on March 9.