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University of Maryland students turn to dogs for stress relief

The volunteer therapy dogs are provided by the non-profit organization People Animals Love. (Kellye Lynn/ABC7)

At the University of Maryland, students are turning to dogs for relaxation and stress relief.

The volunteer therapy dogs are provided by the non-profit organization People Animals Love.

"It's sort of like therapy because we get so caught up in all the work and studying," graduate student Kinjal Chavda said. "You know, you need some time for relaxation."

The reprieve is offered through the Wags for Wellness program, which began in 2016 and offers dog visits at the university's Stamp Student Union, Health Center and McKeldin Library.

"We know that stress is the number one impediment to academic success here at the University of Maryland," University of Maryland health and wellness coordinator Sarah Wilson said. "For some students, dogs can be that stress relief."

The pet therapy visits happen on campus three times a month for two hours. One of the busiest times is the beginning of each semester when students are readjusting to campus life.

"I have a dog myself and I haven't seen her in a long time, so it's really great to be around other dogs and pet them," freshman Seth McKenzie said. "It really makes your day. It makes me happier."

Dog owner Cathy Loyd brought her three golden retrievers to the latest visit. "Sometimes we see up to 200 students in a session, and to them, that just means that many more hands to love them," Loyd said.

Said Chavda, "You come here and all these dogs, you're just hugging them and they're kissing you and it's really nice. It feels great."



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