THERAPY SERVICES TEACH STUDENTS ABOUT SERVICE ANIMALS ON CAMPUS
By Dana Nickel, Staff Writer
Eight therapy and service dogs were brought to North Plaza on Tuesday, April 3 to interact with and educate Mason students and faculty.
The event, “Paws for a Cause” was sponsored by Mason’s Office of Disability Services and created to teach students the difference between emotional support animals, therapy dogs and service dogs.
“The event is professionally endorsed and staffed by local service and therapy dog organizations, as well as the Offices of Disability & Military Services that [were] present to help me teach all who attend about Service Dogs and the two other types of working animals,” said Dylan Arthur, the creator of this event at Mason, in an email to the Fourth Estate.
The event’s main goal was to educate students on the importance of service and therapy animals by providing them with real world experiences and examples through dogs that were trained through local, professional organizations on campus.
“Therapy animals are here to interact and comfort a lot of people, and service animals are here to perform a task that will assist their owners,” said Jason Northrup, the associate director of Mason’s Office of Disability Services.
Attendees of the event also learned that service animals in a harness should not be approached the way one would approach and pet a therapy animal.
Northrup explained that emotional support animals are around to provide comfort and support to their owners, but were not brought to the event because emotional support animals are not limited to just well-trained dogs.
Another group that contributed to this event, Caring Angels, is an organization that participated and endorsed the organization brought a couple of dogs to Mason’s campus to interact with passing students on their way to and from their classes. This local therapy dog organization that travels around Fairfax, providing support and education to people in schools, universities and nursing homes regularly.
Another area of this event housed a special education teacher and her therapy dog, Nic. Nic is a golden retriever that works with special needs children in the classroom. Nic’s soft fur coat provided the children with an opportunity to work on their sensory issues by petting him with their hands and feet.
Photos by Allie Thompson