With the looming stress of upcoming midterms, students would do anything to see their furry friends — or any furry friend for that matter. On the sunny afternoon of Sunday, Sept. 30 WVOF and Animal Love Club brought animals to the Quad for the First Annual Pet Palooza.
Pet Palooza featured several pet-themed activities for students to participate in. WVOF was announcing concert ticket giveaways, a dog kissing booth and crafts such as painting your own wine glass. The event was a first-year experience thrive event, which caused a plethora of students to gather in the center of the University’s Quad.
Senior John Bellum was running the dog kissing booth. “All proceeds [from the kissing booth] will go to the Helping Hearts Foundation, which helps animals who have the chance to survive from surgery but their owners cannot afford it,” Bellum said, “The money we raise will help pay for those procedures.”
The Helping Hearts Foundation was started by Sophia Fagan ‘19, and helping the foundation was Fagan’s inspiration for starting Pet Palooza.
Senior Jessica Degore explained WVOF’s participation. “In general we helped with the scheduling of the event and being in touch with who we needed to, to ensure the event went smoothly,” Degore said, “We played music for the event and donated two raffles items.”
Other clubs also participated in Pet Palooza, such as Chemistry Club, Debate Team and the Wounded Warrior Project.
Fagan said that, “We had a lot of first-years come and they were really excited and, looking at all the photos that were taken, you can tell.”
Ultimately, Fagan said, Helping Hearts Foundation raised $1,300 on Pet Palooza.
First-year students enjoyed the break in the monotony of University life.
“I just paid $1 for the Kissing Booth, and I was able to pet dogs,” said Lauren Gasek ‘22. “I miss my dog at home, so this was a really nice way to spend my Sunday.”
As referenced in a previous Mirror article, there was a 2017 research study by Emily Wood, Sally Ohlsen, Jennifer Thompson, Joe Hulin and Louise Knowles titled, “The feasibility of brief dog-assisted therapy on university students stress levels: The PAwS study.” 131 participants had their systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure and state anxiety inventory tested before and after being exposed to a therapy dog. The average ages of the students being tested was 19, 121 of which were undergraduate students. It’s important to note that 87 of the 131 students claimed to have a pet at home. The data showed that, when exposed to a dog for a brief period of time, the participants had significant reduction in systolic and diastolic blood pressure and in-state anxiety – with the state anxiety scale showing a drastic reduction. Out of the 131 participants, 65 percent showed change on the state anxiety inventory. Thus, even a small window of time exposed to dogs can both relieve stress and high blood pressure.
First-year Olivia Alessandro thought the event was very beneficial. “I have an anatomy test tomorrow, and I really needed a good stress reliever,” said Alessandro. “I love dogs, and I think this was a great idea. I think they should do this more often.”