Therapy Dogs Assist U of I Students
Updated: Apr 17
Reporter: Rachel McGreal Producer: Alex Winton
The University of Illinois Police Department has launched a program aimed at helping students, faculty, and staff relieve stress through interaction with therapy dogs. The I-PAWS (Providing Assistance with Support) program provides certified therapy dogs for members of the campus community to interact with in times of stress, anxiety or for a much-needed break from their daily routine.
The I-PAWS program is part of the University of Illinois Police Department's Community Outreach and Support Program. The program is aimed at providing support to the campus community by promoting wellness and safety through engaging and interactive community programs.
UIPD Detective Tara Hurless and her partner K-9 Kirby is one of four therapy dogs in the I-PAWS program. The duo actively participates in various community engagements, such as tabling events, presentations, and other campus events. In addition, the program also accepts canine requests from individuals, clubs, and organizations on campus.
According to Detective Hurless, the I-PAWS program is not only a resource for those who are feeling overwhelmed or stressed, but it is also an opportunity for the campus community to interact with police officers. Detective Hurless stated, "It just shows, you know, we are just regular human beings. You know, we go home to our families, to our kids, and just like anybody else."
Hurless hopes that the program will demonstrate to the campus community what it means to be a police officer and how they can make a positive impact in the community. "It's not necessarily about writing tickets, arresting people, things like that. It's about making friendships in the community," she said.
Students, faculty, and staff can request time with a UIPD therapy dog by visiting: https://police.illinois.edu/services/coast/. Make sure you stop and say hello to K-9 Kirby and Detective Hurless if you see them out and about on campus.