Animals and Edibles: Pet Therapy Events

(Posted May 2, 2013)

Therapeutic methods developed by JC PAWS involves bringing in a variety of animals for students.

Throughout the school year, Juniata's Pet Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) organizes pet therapy events such as Cats and Cookies or Dogs and Donuts, where students can meet furry friends while savoring some sweet snacks. Their upcoming event, Exotics and Eclairs, will be on Tuesday, May 7, from 7 to 9 p.m. in Ellis Ballroom. Valeriya Smithka, president of PAWS, answers some questions about the club's pet therapy events:

Q: Where did the idea of having pet therapy events come from?

A: I can't tell you for sure because when I joined the club the club had already been putting on these events for a couple years. I don't know what the initial motivation was, but I've heard that of other colleges and workplaces doing pet therapy events.

Q: Where do the pets usually come from?

A: For the most part we get them from the community, but Cats and Cookies is an exception. We get the cats from the Humane Society so they can socialize with people. It helps them get stronger interactions between cats and people, which is good for them so they can find their forever homes. For everything else, PAWS members and PAWS officers have to reach out to students, staff, or community members to get them to bring their pets to the event.

Q: What kinds of exotic animals are involved?

A: We're pretty much up for anything that's not too big and isn't a cat or a dog. In the past we've had a duck, chickens, rabbits, snakes, lizards, a ferret, things like that.

Q: How do you think these events affect the students?

A: I hope that students do get at least a moment of stress relief from the events. I don't know if it has had a huge impact, but I do know that it has had somewhat of an impact because people do keep coming back to the events. Sometimes there's a line all the way out the door around the corner 20 minutes before it even starts.

Q: Are there any plans for the future?

A: All the events will keep going as normal. The one thing that we would change, for the safety of the cats, we might change the rules for the manhandling of the cats so they're not as frightened. I know in the past people have picked them up and carried them around and accidentally dropped them. The cats have been fine, but it's not the safest. That's the only thing we'd change with that. Other than that, there haven't been any issues.

Q: What's your favorite part of these events?

A: Honestly just the event itself. There's not that much work in putting on the event. Once I know all of the pets that are coming, all I have to do is go out and use club funds to purchase the supplies. The whole event I'm just there enjoying the event, and it's nice to do that.

Laura Bitely '14, Juniata Online Journalist

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