Tuesday, May 12, 2015

UIS welcomes dogs as stress relief for students

Meghan Milewski worked like a dog preparing for her microeconomics final. After all that, it was time to relax with one.

Milewski, a University of Illinois Springfield sophomore from Lake Villa, took a break from her textbooks on Monday morning and curled up with Eve, a 5-year-old Labrador and Great Dane mix.

The Animal Protective League of Springfield brought seven adoptable dogs to campus to ease the end-of-year stress for students.

Milewski had just a few hours left before her most difficult final this year, and Eve helped put her mind at ease. “I studied for at least nine hours yesterday,” she said. “There was just so much to study for and so much to go over. I just needed to get out of my room and out of the library, so I came here.”

Alexandria Cosner, assistant director of fitness and wellness for UIS, said this was the first time that the school had invited the APL’s dogs to campus as a coping mechanism for finals, and she expected it may become a tradition each semester.

The APL dogs make regular visits to nursing homes and elementary schools, and she hoped bringing a few to campus could offer comfort for students during the most hectic time of their academic year.

“It’s to help reduce stress levels," Cosner said. “There’s a lot of research behind that. Pet interactions increase happy hormones and decrease the stress.”

The APL brought seven dogs to campus on Monday, and Anne Sobala, volunteer coordinator for APL, said they were scheduled to return with a few more on Wednesday.

Three UIS students had volunteered to received training and become dog handlers for the event later this week.

Sobala said the visit to campus did as much good for the dogs as it did for the students. Socializing the dogs, she said, increases their adoptability.

The organization facilitates about 2,000 dog and cat adoptions per year, and families are looking to take home dogs with good manners. “If we can say that they were at an event with all kinds of people and all kinds of dogs, and they were getting pets and love, and they still did great — it helps a lot,” she said.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on May 11, 2015.

Read the entire article here.