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Overdue: Yale law library tries therapy dog

At the Yale University Law Library, you can check out “Legal Alchemy: The Use and Misuse of Science in the Law.” You can check out “The Supreme Court A to Z: A Ready Reference Encyclopedia.”

Or, you can check out Monty, a terrier mix whose mission, in an experimental program started this month, is to de-stress, during final exam time, the litigators of tomorrow.

You’d think a genius farm like Yale University would have figured out sooner — as some smaller and lesser known colleges have — that dogs can, physically and emotionally, help students through troubled or stressful times.

But, for the school whose mascot is an English bulldog named Handsome Dan, it’s better late than never.

In the pilot program, students can check out Monty — a  21-pound “certified library therapy dog” who provides 30-minute sessions of what ABCNews describes as “unconditional, stress-busting puppy love.”

“The interest in available slots has been high,” said Jan Conroy, a spokeswoman for Yale Law School.

In a March 10 memo, law librarian Blair Kauffman said she hoped the free, three-day pilot pet therapy program would be “a positive addition to current services offered by the library … It is well documented that visits from therapy dogs have resulted in increased happiness, calmness and overall emotional well-being.” The memo directed students to the website of Therapy Dogs International for more information.

The school has yet to decide if the program will be ongoing. Likely, it being Yale Law School, there are liability concerns — the type that are known to paralyze bureaucracies and often limit the good dogs can do, based on mostly baseless fears.

Monty, for example, though he is said to be hypoallergenic, will hold his visits in a “designated non-public space” in the library to eliminate “potential adverse reactions from any library user who might have dog-related concerns.”

Concerns have also been expressed about the sign-up list for Monty being in a visible spot. That, the overly fearful fear, results in students having to expose their need for a mental health session — or at least some time with a dog — in public.

Monty — whose full name is General Montgomery — belongs to librarian Julian Aiken. And the pilot program got started after a Yale legal blog jokingly suggested making Monty available for checkout.

Therapy dogs have been introduced at Tufts University in Massachusetts, Oberlin College in Ohio and UC San Diego to help students get through the pressures of mid-terms and finals.


Comment from Peggy @Peggy’s Pet Place
Time March 25, 2011 at 11:17 am

If my college had offered this, I would have signed up for it all the time, just to have snuggled with a dog! I think it’s a great idea. The worries over the visible sign up list is silly. A student doesn’t need to have mental health issues to benefit from some de-stressing time with Monty!

Comment from Kelly
Time March 26, 2011 at 5:32 am

While attending MICA, my dog at the time, Shea, often accompanied me to classes. I don’t know if they still have an “open dog” policy, but it was great. Several students took advantage of it and there was never a problem.

Comment from Leesia
Time March 28, 2011 at 10:45 am

One of our three dogs is a certified therapy dog here in Atlanta and she visits a local college once a year at college exam time as well! The students and staff love the visit and it’s Ellie’s favorite of the year too. 🙂 I hope we start to see more of these programs.

Comment from Andy Lee
Time April 14, 2011 at 1:12 pm

My dog Casey used to come to classes with me @ Berkeley, too. Also not sure that this would be allowed today, she was loved by everyone! Occasionally we’d find her in the kitchens of various frat houses, or on campus housing, but usually she just hung out quietly and kept us company. Yay DOGS!