Animal Assisted Mental Health Intervention (Pet Therapy)

Have you ever noticed how people light up when they see a puppy?  Have you ever seen the calming affect petting an animal can have? Did you know human-animal interaction is scientifically proven to lower blood pressure and promote a sense of well being?

Health Services recognizes the benefits of pet therapy and is using it to help students and employees with stress reduction. Sadie the therapy dog is used in Health services as an Animal Assisted Mental Health Intervention for students and employees in crisis. In addition, the week before finals we bring on campus several therapy dogs at our Paws to Relax event to provide stress relief.

Pet Therapy Benefits

Physical Benefits

  • Lowers blood pressure.
  • Improves cardiovascular health.
  • Releases calming endorphins (oxytocin).
  • Lowers overall physical pain.
  • The act of petting produces an automatic relaxation response, which is believed to reduce the amount of medication needed by some people.

Mental Health Benefits

  • Lifts Spirits and Lessons Depression
  • Lowers feelings of isolation
  • Encourages communication
  • Increases socialization
  • Lessons boredom
  • Reduces anxiety
  • Creates motivation


Sadie is a certified therapy dog owned by campus nurse Wendy Gomez. Sadie’s primary duty is to assist nurse Wendy with students and employees who are experiencing an acute mental health crisis such as anxiety and depression. Sadie also assists in classroom presentations on stress management and spreads smiles throughout the campus including Disability Services, the Veterans Center and the library. If you see her walking around campus please do not hesitate to come say Hi.

photo collage of Sadie the therapy dog

Paws to Relax

Every semester the week before finals several therapy dogs from Pet Partners come to campus to interact with our students and employees. This event is a good way to relieve some stress and help you focus. It is held in the quad in May and in the Student Center in December.

Pictures of Paws to Relax taken by Gavin Gomez