Cal students get much-needed puppy love

Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation is out to prove a little puppy love can go a long way. The Walnut Creek foundation works to share the love of their furry creatures with the community through their Pet Hug Pack therapy program.

On a recent therapy trip to UC Berkeley, Annie, a 2-year-old yellow Labrador, spent her day taking in the sun in front of the campus library. While taking in the scenery, students passed by to spend some time with her to get some much needed pet therapy.

Camille Mellet, a freshman on her way to study for her three final exams stopped to spend see Annie, and told the Oakland Tribune:

“It’s a good deal for both. The dogs get lots of petting and the students get more relaxed.”

Studies have shown that interaction with animals has numerous health benefits including lower blood pressure, reduced anxiety, overall improved physical and mental health, according to Pat Mills, the coordinator of pet therapy programs at ARF.

ARF’s Pet Hug Pack program started in 2002 and has grown to include 135 therapy pets. Every month they visit around 70 assisted living facilities, medical centers, hospices, libraries and schools.

Students as UC Berkeley could definitely use the extra pick-me-up as next week is finals week for most courses. So to help students make it through what they refer to as “dead week,” ARF brought five trained dogs to campus to give students a few minutes of free pet therapy.

ARF Executive Director Elena Bicker said:

“I think what’s amazing is the unconditional love of an animal is extended to anyone who needs it. A lot of students have pets at home that they had to leave behind, so it’s nice for them to get reconnected and get their ‘fur fix.’ “