Pet study break a fall favorite

Photo of a student holding a dog

Zuko, with handler Mallory Holt.

Zuko is a survivor.

Four years ago, Zuko was surrendered to Village Vet in Decatur on New Year’s Eve by owners who wanted him euthanized. The three-and-a-half pound chihuahua had a broken leg that had become gangrenous.

Today, Zuko runs around on three good legs and makes everyone happy. He was one of the many dogs who participated in this year’s Woodruff Library Pet Therapy Study Break.

In its fifth year, the Pet Therapy Study Break is organized by the library’s Outreach and Education Team. The purpose is to give Emory students a much-needed break during final exams. According to organizer Erin Mooney, word of the event has grown. “Every year we have partnered with Canine Assistants, whose service dogs are terrific,” said Mooney. “This year, Atlanta Pet Partners heard about the event and wanted to join the fun.”

Canine Assistants usually trains about 150 dogs at a time, mainly through the work of volunteers who foster the dogs during their training. A local company, Canine Assistants was founded by Jennifer Arnold as a non-profit organization which trains and provides service dogs for children and adults with physical disabilities or other special needs.

Photo of students petting a dog

Students relax while petting Dublin.

Their dogs this year included Dublin, a black lab who participates in Canine Readers, a program at Lake Forest Elementary where students read to him.

In addition to adding a second pet therapy organization, the Pet Therapy Study Break’s list of volunteers expanded as well. According to Mooney, “We had folks throughout the LITS division volunteer and even added some non-LITS Emory employees who wanted to participate.”

Nearly 300 students attended and enjoyed the stress therapy. “This is the greatest thing ever,” exclaimed one. Zuko was a favorite. “He’s a professional snuggler,” said Mallory Holt, Zuko’s owner and licensed veterinary technician.

Zuko is a member of Atlanta Pet Partners, a national organization that registers all kinds of pets, even including guinea pigs, as pet therapy animals. “They put the pet handlers through a rigorous training course,” said Holt.

If you want to volunteer next year, reach out to Erin Mooney. If you want to follow Zuko, he’s on Instagram!

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One Comment

  1. Posted March 21, 2017 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    I was just doing some research for a blog post about dogs as stress therapy and found this article! What an amazing program the library has put together — I wish more schools and businesses would offer this type of stress relief! In the research we have been doing there seems to be a high correlation of work productivity and animal therapy (meaning those offices that have dogs in the office seem to perform better!). It is amazing to see almost 300 students come out for this….that does the heart good!

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