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UP debuts emotional support dogs for stressed students, staff

/ 05:01 AM February 13, 2019
UP debuts emotional support dogs for stressed students, staff

CAMPUS CANINES Cotton and Tisay (left) bask in the spotlight as they are introduced to the UP community by UP Diliman Chancellor Michael Tan. The program was pilot-tested in December with Sabre and Cody (right). —Jerwin Agpaoa, Utak at pusa FB page

The University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City, has officially introduced its first batch of emotional support dogs as part of its “expanded idea” of upholding not just honor and excellence, but also compassion.

According to UP Diliman Chancellor Michael Tan, having emotional support dogs was a convergence of two programs: strengthening psychosocial support for students and university staff experiencing depression or anxiety, and managing the animals on campus.

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Stress busters

An emotional support animal (ESA) provides emotional and therapeutic benefits to those suffering from anxiety, emotional stress or other psychiatric problems.

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“Last December, when we had our semestral 24/7 Kapihan which provides students with 24/7 review spaces…, we thought we could add other stress reduction measures,” Tan said.

“Then we thought, why not bring in dogs that are properly trained and can be carried and petted?” he added.

The program was initially tested with two dogs owned by UP Diliman Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Jerwin Agpaoa serving as ESAs.

The interactions between the students and Cody, a beagle, and Sabre, a keeshond-chowchow mix, “worked out very well,” Tan said.

Newcomers on campus

On Monday, he formally introduced Cotton, a yellow labrador/aspin (asong Pinoy) mix and Tisay, an aspin, to the UP community, making the Diliman campus the first in the UP System to have emotional support dogs.

Cotton, according to his human, Prof. Khrysta Imperial Rara, showed up in February 2018 at the College of Mass Communication where she was teaching.

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“He was dirty and mangy but he was also friendly and playful. We had him neutered, vaccinated and treated for mange. He thrives on the attention students give him. Most people stop to pet him and talk to him before they go to work or class,” Rara said.

Cotton and Tisay, according to Tan, are “tambay dogs that can be approached if you need a shoulder to cry on.”

“Soon, we hope to have designated colleges each with their own dogs on duty,” he said.

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TAGS: emotional support animal, emotional support dogs, Michael Tan, University of the Philippines, UP Diliman
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