Therapy Dogs Return

Therapy DogsTHERAPY DOGS RETURN TO SBCC

Santa Barbara City College will host another therapy dog event Check Out a Dog and Lower Your Stress! for students on Thursday, May 5 from 1:30 – 3:30 p.m. outside the college’s Luria Library on West Campus.

“This program has become very special to our students, and particularly during the hectic days before the end of the semester,” says SBCC Library Director Elizabeth Bowman. In recent years before finals each semester, students have enjoyed the library’s “Relaxation Station” which can include a rocking chair, art supplies, hula hoop, and games. In December 2014, the library added therapy dogs to the offerings, which was a huge success and joy to students.

Partnering with SBCC is All for Animals, a local nonprofit dedicated to enriching the lives of young people through personal interaction with specially trained therapy animals. All of the dogs who will be on hand have received specialized training with their human partner from All for Animals and are certified as therapy dogs by Love on a Leash, The Foundation for Pet Provided Therapy. Local volunteers will give their afternoon to serve SBCC students.

Research shows that interaction with pets decreases the level of cortisol—or stress hormone—in people and increases endorphins, known as the “happiness hormone.” Studies also show excessive stress, like the kind students may experience during finals, impairs memory. An activity that relieves stress – such as petting a friendly dog – can improve a student’s ability to retain what they are learning. Some studies show improved concentration after working with a dog and one study suggested “stress reduction in healthcare professionals may occur after as little as 5 minutes of interaction with a therapy dog.”

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to partner with Santa Barbara City College for this special event,” said Karen Lee Stevens, founder and president of All for Animals. At schools, libraries, and many public events“we have seen first-hand the calming effect our therapy dogs have,” says Stevens and “when we bring our cute and cuddly canines into a college environment, students will have a chance to unwind and pet our dogs, too.”

The only problem with the program? Library Director Bowman says: “Students yearn for visits from these lovable dogs every week, instead of just once a semester”

Can animals help teach us something about our work with other humans? Maybe! Read this interesting column by librarian, Michael Stephens.

For more information on library activities at Santa Barbara City College, visit library.sbcc.edu. For more information or to make a donation to All for Animals, visit allforanimals.org