Almost everyone has had a pet at some point in their life. Whether it’s a dog, cat, hamster, rabbit, or even a fish, animals fill the homes of people around the world, and for a good reason. According to WebMD, having a pet can decrease blood pressure and cholesterol levels, boost immunity, and lessen anxiety and depression. With all of the health benefits, it’s no surprise that many schools are beginning to introduce more pets into the classroom. According to several mental health surveys, students today are more anxious than any other generation. With anxiety up, the stress-relieving help of our furry friends has been implemented. This goes beyond even small classroom pets, and many colleges now have pet therapy programs which temporarily bring in animals for the sole purpose of helping students de-stress. Colleges with successful programs include Yale, Oberlin College, and Fordham University.
Jenny Shamla, former student at the University of Minnesota and practicing DVM believes that, if used correctly, pets can have a huge impact on students. “Classroom pets have numerous benefits,” Shamla states. “Not only do they help in terms of responsibility, but they can also help develop and maintain proper social skills.”
Shamla did, however, have a few qualms with how pets are usually implemented. “I don’t think people understand how much time and care certain pets require,” she says. “It can be a huge hassle for the teacher, and there can be many questions that people ignore, such as what to do with the animal during the summer.”
On the use of larger therapy animals, Shamla stated, “While there is always the concern of allergies and people being afraid of the animals, I can definitely see a future in the use of therapy dogs for students.”
While Providence Academy has yet to allow pets beyond fish, many students agree that it could be extremely helpful. Lily Cadwallider ’21 said, “I know several people here who desperately need some sort of stress and anxiety relief, and I think a therapy animal is the best course of action. I know they have tried and failed to do other things, and there is no beating the comfort of an animal.”
Gage Petrini ’22 said something similar. “This school is extremely stressful; there needs to be some way to de-stress and I can’t think of anyone who’d be against a therapy dog.”
Like it or hate it, the health benefits of animals can’t be ignored. With classroom pets becoming more popular and more colleges making use of therapy dogs, hopefully the large amounts of stress and anxiety in schools will begin to decrease, and students can live happier lives.