University of California at Santa Cruz students Tuesday fought some of the stress of finals week by canoodling with canines from the Santa Cruz SPCA.
The SPCA gave students the opportunity to interact with its shelter animals Tuesday afternoon and the student who started the program was thrilled with the result.
"We got better turnout than some of us thought," said Ian Evans, 22, an ecology and evolutionary biology student. "It was 40 students off and on. I mark it up as a success."
Because dogs aren't allowed on the campus, which is filled with wildlife from deer to mountain lions, shuttles carried students down from the hillside campus to the First Congregational Church, where they frolicked with four-legged friends.
SPCA officials said they believe animal companionship can lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, promote healing, reduce social isolation and offer a sense of security.
"Big universities with stressful finals, such as Yale University,
have been doing it for several years," said Sarah Eryavec, a manager at Santa Cruz SPCA.
Evans, a fourth-year student at the university, started the program after hearing about its success at other campuses across the country.
"I was disappointed that UCSC didn't already have something like
this in place," Evans said. "I have always found that dogs de-stress me, and I thought I would help bring that to people on campus."
He thanked the volunteers, from staff, students, the SPCA, the Dean of Students and the driver of the shuttle, for this dog day afternoon.
--Bay City News contributed to this report---