ActivePaper Archive Pups find their place in Pete’s Pet Posse - Oklahoman, 9/22/2014

Pups find their place in Pete’s Pet Posse

THERAPY DOGS BRING SPECIAL COMFORT TO CAMPUS

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OSU employee Lorinda Schrammel’s dog, Evie, is a member of Pete’s Pet Posse, an on-campus pet therapy program with more than a dozen dogs that interact with students, faculty, staff and visitors. PHOTO BY GARY LAWSON, UNIVERSITY MARKETING

Evie is one lucky dog. Rescued from life-threatening circumstances, the black-and-tan shepherd is now returning the love and affection she’s received at OSU by becoming part of Pete’s Pet Posse.

Evie was found wandering around Shawnee, Okla., after surviving the May 2013 tornado. Veterinarians at OSU believe she may have been abandoned before the tornado. Efforts were made to find her owners, but no one ever claimed her.

Covered with fleas and ticks, she also tested positive for heartworms. Along with many other animals, she was treated without charge by the Center for Veterinary Health Sciences’ Veterinary Teaching Hospital. Donors to the OSU Animal Relief Fund helped cover the costs.

After being adopted by OSU employee Lorinda Schrammel, Evie has become one of more than a dozen dogs being trained as a wellness benefit for university students, faculty, staff and campus visitors.

“She knows she owes the university” Schrammel said.

The OSU Center for Veterinary Health Sciences, along with the OSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital, University Counseling, Human Resources and the Employee Assistance Program created the program, with First Cowgirl Ann Hargis spearheading the 2-year-old collaboration.

Animals in the program belong to people like Schrammel — faculty, staff and others affiliated with OSU. Among other criteria, the dogs are selected based on their temperament.

Pet therapy programs are rare at universities. The goal is to incorporate Pete’s Pet Posse members into various departments on campus, raising the morale of faculty, staff and students.

Pets can decrease blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides and loneliness in people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They can also provide a laugh, a giggle and a smile, as well as opportunities for exercise.

Pete’s Posse members are trained to provide compassion and affection in exchange for a head pat or a belly rub. Oklahoma City trainer Lynne Bennett teaches the dogs to be therapy animals on a university campus.

Each dog wears an orange vest with a therapy dog patch. Petting the dogs, talking to their owner/handler and asking questions are encouraged.

By offering their canine support, Evie and the other dogs add an emotional health component to America’s Healthiest Campus.