NIU should provide more therapy animals


Sean Reed

Chase, a three-year-old therapy dog for NIU’s Counseling and Consultation Services, looks toward the camera lens during the Center for Student Assistance’s “Chilling with Chase” event Wednesday in the Peters Campus Life Building. Chase completed his service training in December to become a certified therapy dog alongside his handler Angela Kaminski, a social worker for Counseling and Consultation Services. (Sean Reed | Northern Star)

College students are no strangers to stress. There is constant pressure to succeed academically, professionally and even socially. Universities can help provide relief for students by offering different programs such as therapy animals. 

While dogs seem to be the most popular therapy animal, other animals can be used. Therapy animals can include cats, fish, bunnies and even turtles. According to FrontiersIn, the use of therapy animals can help to improve mental health overall, decrease stress and anxiety and put you in a better mood.

NIU has recently begun using a therapy dog on campus. Starting on February 22 there was a therapy dog named Chase on campus from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. and Chase will continue to be on campus on April 12 and April 26 in the Center for Student Assistance, Room 150, of the Peters Campus Life Building. Students and faculty can stop by and spend time with Chase. 

Even though NIU just started this program, this should have been done sooner. Other universities have similar programs. According to Affordable Colleges, other universities such as Kent State and Miami University offer programs that use therapy dogs for college students. Miami University also uses miniature horses throughout the semester as therapy. 

While NIU does offer counseling, not everyone is comfortable with speaking to a counselor. According to BMC Psychiatry, therapy dogs can be used as an outlet for students who struggle speaking about their mental health. 

While having a therapy dog like Chase is a good resource, NIU should offer more therapy animals and make it more accessible. Instead of only having Chase come every two weeks, they should have therapy animals available more often. College students have many stressors between school, work and family life. With that, students deserve to have access to programs that help manage stress besides counseling. 

Chase’s presence on campus seems to have had a positive impact on students. Why does NIU not have more therapy animals available?