By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK — Due to the COVID-19 pandemic stay at home and social distancing requirements issued by the CDC, Oklahoma State University’s (OSU) Pete’s Pet Posse therapy program is changing its regular pet therapy campus visits into virtual sessions.
Created to enhance emotional wellness, Pete’s Pet Posse is the nation’s premier university pet therapy program with more than 60 teams on three OSU campuses in Stillwater and Tulsa.
The program is comprehensive in nature and is supported by the OSU Center for Veterinary Health Sciences, the OSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital, University Counseling, Human Resources, and the Employee Assistance Program.
With the physical campuses shut down, OSU students, faculty, staff and visitors can now sign up for virtual pet therapy via video conferencing with their favorite dogs.
“We are stretching the bounds of technology and canine relationships to put this platform together to continue offering pet therapy for our campus,” said OSU first lady Ann Hargis, a co-founder of Pete’s Pet Posse.
“The dogs are thrilled to don their Pete’s Pet Posse vests to digitally reconnect with our campus community from the owners’ living rooms and laps,” Hargis added. “The pet therapy teams are available to discuss how they are spending their quarantine time and encourage students and employees to express any fears or concerns that are arising in this challenging time.”
Trevor Richardson, OSU director of counseling and sport psychology stated, “Our team at OSU University Counseling traditionally works closely with Pete’s Pet Posse, and I’m always amazed by the dog’s ability to reach human beings on a level even trained counselors can’t often reach.”
“There is something about a dog’s unwavering acceptance that helps people open up about their problems — even if they can’t pet the dog because of social distancing,” Richardson added. “We applaud the Pete’s Pet Posse teams for finding ways to continue to serve our campus in this very unique time of need by allowing virtual pet therapy into their homes.”
Virtual pet therapy sessions are at 2 p.m. Wednesdays and Fridays.
To view a video with Pete’s Pet Posse, featuring with Hera, Brisket and Winnie, click here.
To register, go to the Oklahoma State University Facebook page and click on the Pete’s Pet Posse virtual pet therapy link or on the website. If sessions are full, visitors can tune in live on OState.tv.
Pete’s Pet Posse, an integral part of OSU’s wellness commitment as America’s Healthiest Campus®, will resume its regular pet therapy sessions when the OSU campuses reopen.
For more information about Pete’s Pet Posse, click here.