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Registered Therapy Dogs to Help University Students, Employees Reduce Stress during Exam Week

Mon, 12/08/2014 - 10:39am | By: Charmaine Williams Schmermund

With the end of the year approaching, many university and college students are feeling stressed as they prepare for final semester exams. To help curb that anxiety, The University of Southern Mississippi is partnering with the Visiting Pet Teams of South Mississippi to provide registered therapy dogs throughout the week of exams at the university's Gulf Park campus in Long Beach.

“As a faculty member and a handler of a registered therapy dog, I have long desired to have our animals from the Visiting Pet Teams of South Mississippi come to campus during exam week,” said Dr. Casey Maugh, associate director of interdisciplinary studies and associate professor of communication studies at Southern Miss.

“As a professor, I see how anxious and stressed the entire campus – students, faculty, and staff – becomes as the semester comes to a close. As a handler for Henry, my therapy dog, I know how effective he can be at bringing a calming, relaxing effect on those who encounter him. I was sure our students would benefit from having therapy dogs on campus.”

According to the spring 2013 edition of the National College Health Assessment, results from a study of over 120,000 undergraduate students found that 46.3% of those surveyed felt trauma or overwhelmed in regard to their academic responsibilities.

“I was thrilled when President Bennett approached me about having our therapy dogs on campus during exam week,” said Maugh. “His insight into the positive benefits of pet therapy led to our bringing this exciting event to campus. He was very familiar with how therapy dogs can help alleviate stress for our campus community and wanted us to share that at Southern Miss.”

Visiting Pet Teams of South Mississippi will be in the Fleming Education Center on the Gulf Park campus in Long Beach from December 8 – 11 at scheduled times throughout the day. For details on the schedule, call University Communications at 228.865.4573.