Four-Legged Friends Reduce Stress

By Julie Householder |

From left: Elena Mercadante, Megan Williams, Judy Zoller

The pressure of final exams and end of semester chaos was a heavy weight on the shoulders of Elena Mercadante and Megan Williams.

That was immediately gone as soon as they began petting Brady. Brady is one of the therapy dogs brought for students to interact with during De-Stress Day, a campus event held before exam week.

Megan Williams had been in the middle of writing a paper when she saw on Flagler College’s Snapchat that there were therapy dogs on West Lawn.

“We ran down here,” said Williams. “It has calmed me down and I feel that I can be more focused. You can’t be stressed around dogs.”

Elena Mercadante could not agree more.

“I came for the dogs. I haven’t been this happy and smiled so much in awhile.” Said Mercadante.

According to a study reported in the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions, animal-assisted therapy reduces blood pressure, anxiety and improves heart and lung function.

More colleges and universities have seen the benefits of pet therapy for students. Oklahoma State University has implemented a full time, university wide reactive pet therapy program. The therapy pack, Pete’s Pet Posse, prioritizes the emotional health and wellbeing of students, faculty, staff and campus visitors during stressful situation.

Flagler College does not have a full time pet therapy program, but bringing therapy dogs to campus for students on De-Stress Day has already shown a positive impact on students.

Brady and Judy Zoller

Brady’s owner, Judy Zoller, has seen the effects Brady has had on Flagler College students two semesters in a row.

“A lot of students miss their dogs and have found relief.”


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