The Student News Site of Oakmont High School

Fido for feelings

Therapy pets on campus

September 11, 2018

The dogs do not judge you, and I think teenagers are in need of acceptance; unconditional love and acceptance from whoever can offer it to them.”

— Sondra Myles

Therapy pets are animals that are trained in preparation for certain emergencies, some individuals are more prone to encounter. For instance, people who have epilepsy may have a dog that is trained to recognize the symptoms (service dog), someone with anxiety may have a pet who can tell when they are about to have a panic attack (therapy pet).

“The dogs do not judge you, and I think teenagers are in need of acceptance; unconditional love and acceptance from whoever can offer it to them,” vice principal Sondra Myles said.

Some therapist offices offer days when therapy pets are available to comfort visitors and patients. With the new Wellness Center built, the coordinators should consider the idea. Therapy pets help reduce anxiety and could be the support systems students need. They could also make students more comfortable when talking about serious issues that may be plaguing their everyday lives.

“I think having therapy animals would be a great idea for this school,” Myles said. “Unfortunately, there are legal matters associated with this idea and we are also guided by our insurance company that it would not be good thing to do. I would hope [that we are able to have therapy pets in the future] because I am supportive of it.” Myles said.

The science around therapy pets is limited, but not nonexistent. Airports found ways around the legalities and currently have therapy pets available on site. If the lawyers and insurance of an airport can weave their way into the future so should we. The campus could have access to therapy dogs or other animals on a daily basis if students were to contact the lawyers and perhaps get them to see the other side. However, the idea of getting high schoolers to agree on something is a difficult task; but who does not love animals?

“I think that anything we can provide our students that offers them an opportunity to engage, feel connected, and have a sense of purpose and just really help them self-regulate to then be able to really dive into in depth counseling and such,” wellness counselor Cristina Dobon-Claveau said.

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