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Tag: relief

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.

Tsunami rescue dogs delayed by red tape

Dozens of search and rescue dogs from around the world are arriving in Japan to help find survivors of the tsunami — but some of the teams have been delayed from getting to the quake zone by the country’s stringent customs regulations on importing animals.

“There are many rules here. So it’s taking a long time,” a member of the Swiss team told ABC News.com in the customs area of Narita International Airport, just after an aftershock rolled through the airport.

The 25-member Swiss team, among the first to arrive, said bureaucratic delays kept them and their nine search and rescue dogs — retrievers, Australian collies and border collies — from arriving at the quake zone quickly.

U.S. officials said they are working with the Japanese to expedite approval of dog teams from Virginia and California who arrived in Japan today. About 150 American rescuers and their 12 dogs were sent from Los Angeles and Fairfax County, Virginia.

(That’s one of the Fairfax team’s  canine members above, just prior to departing yesterday.)

As of Monday, 91 countries and nine international organizations have offered to assist with relief efforts from last Friday’s earthquake and tsunami, according to the Japanese government.

(Photo: Courtesy of Fairfax County)

From sea to grimy sea

We didn’t cover too much ground yesterday — progressing only from Biloxi to New Orleans, but we did get in some beach time in a town called Waveland, Mississippi.

Good thing, too, because it was a sweltering day on the gulf. As Ace splashed about on an isolated sliver of beach in Hancock County — where dogs, on leashes, are allowed and unleashed ones don’t raise too many eyebrows — I wondered, between the oil approaching our shores and global warning, if the day might come when seafood can be hauled out of the gulf pre-fried and ready to eat. For our side order, we could toss in a basket of fries, which would emerge golden brown, salted and only slightly toxic.

But seeing the ominous sight of spill workers combing the beaches with large plastic bags, just a few hundred yards from where children played, I realized it’s clearly no laughing matter. It’s truly a hellish one.

The suffering already caused, to both wildlife and humans, and, as we’ll see tomorrow — even dogs — has likely just begun.

Hancock County’s beaches haven’t been hit — yet — and the hordes of worker are mostly picking up beach trash as they wait to see what comes ashore.

But for parts of Mississippi, and much of the rest of the gulf, particularly New Orleans and other areas still getting over Hurricane Katrina, the combination of natural and man-made disasters is almost too much to bear.

For a little relief, people make jokes.

As I checked into another Motel 6 on the edge of New Orleans yesterday afternoon, a storm appeared to be on the way.

“What’s next?” the motel manager was saying to the front desk staff. “Maybe a sandstorm? Or a rockstorm. That’s what it’ll be, a rockstorm.”

(For all of our continuing series, “Dog’s Country,” click here.)

Tibetan earthquake also took toll on mastiffs

The earthquake in northwest China that killed more than 2,000 people and left an estimated 100,000 homeless also took a huge toll on Tibetan mastiffs.

Officials say that 300 Tibetan mastiffs were crushed to death in the small Tibetan town of Yushu when their kennels collapsed in, and those that survived have been running wild and terrified without their owners.

Yushu, the breeding center for Tibetan mastiffs,  is believed to be home to as many as 20,000 members of the breed. 

The dogs — a status symbol in China, where they can sell at upwards of $100,000 — were once housed in elaborate kennels that lined the only road on the edge of the town. Now, the Times of London reports, they, like their human masters, are homeless.

The relief effort has seen about 8 tons of dog food have arrived in Yushu, where all local supply shops were razed in the earthquake.

(Photo: Joe Chan / Reuters)

Dogs from around the world headed to Haiti

Dogs from New York City and around the world are being sent to help in the search and recovery effort in earthquake-ravaged Haiti.

The U.S. government is sending two, 72-man search and rescue teams with dogs to help dig out survivors, said Rajiv Shah, the administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, Business Week reports.

French teams with “sniffer dogs” were seen boarding vans yesterday, headed to the airport on their way to Haiti. China dispatched a chartered plane containing multiple sniffer dogs and 10 tons of tents, food and medical equipment. A team from the Russian Ministry for Emergency Situations left Moscow, also bound for Haiti, Discovery News reports.

Elsewhere, dogs were departing from Peru, Taiwan, Mexico and Britain, where a 64-member team, including dogs and handlers was en route.

The National Disaster Search Dog Foundation has sent at least six dog-and-handler teams have been sent to Haiti.

“Our hearts go out to our neighbors in Haiti, and we’re honored to be able to help find survivors of this terrible tragedy,” NDSDF executive director Debra Tosch said. “This is the day that our teams have trained for; when the unthinkable happens, SDF Teams stand ready to respond, bringing hope and comfort to victims and their loved ones.”