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Oklahoma City - An OSU Degree in OKC.

Pet program making way to OSU-OKC

Lucy is a therapy dog for OSU-Stillwater who has visited the OSU-OKC campus. “Pete’s Pet Posse ” is in the process of opening a branch for the OKC campus.

A program filled with man’s best friend aims to bring benefits to the students at Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City (OSU-OKC).

Pete’s Pet Posse, which has shown mental health and other benefits on the OSU-Stillwater campus, is expanding to OSU-OKC.

Pete's Pet Posse’s mission is to enhance the wellbeing of the Cowboy family through professionally trained and nationally certified pet therapy teams in collaboration with campus resources and generous supporters. The pets and handlers for the first class at OSU-OKC will be selected after the first application round closes on Tuesday, Jan. 31.

Research has shown  that therapy dogs have a positive impact on mental, emotional, and physical health and are great at reducing anxiety, depression, and trauma. This is especially helpful in educational settings around periods of high stress or significant change such as the start of a semester or finals week.

“By bringing Pete’s Pet Posse to OSU-OKC, we plan to address these needs head on,” said OSU-OKC’s Health and Wellness Counselor Ross Duren. “Participants in the program can expect to feel a deeper connection with their dog and the campus as a whole.”

Interested applicants must be a faculty or staff member of OSU-OKC, or have a direct affiliation with the university. Additionally, interested applicants must include their dog’s information on the application. Humans without a dog will not be considered. As a reminder, applying does not guarantee acceptance.

“We felt that it would be a great step to bring Pete’s Pet Posse here to OSU-OKC as we continue to address both mental and emotional health needs on campus,” Duren said. “Pete’s Pet Posse is already a successful and well-known program on the Stillwater campus and OSU-OKC was regularly requesting visits from the Stillwater dogs.”

Those connected with OSU-OKC who would like to submit themselves and their dog to be considered for the first training cohort must apply by Tuesday, Jan. 31. After that, those interested in participating as a handler/dog team will have to wait until applications re-open during the following semester.

Some other general requirements to participate include passing a general vet and disposition check and completing a committee interview. If the dog and handler are accepted, a fee will be required while completing a 10-week (one day per week) in-person therapy dog training. The handler and dog must be willing to conduct therapy team visits on-campus as needed for the next calendar year. After completing training, participants and dogs will be nationally certified pet therapy teams, which are reviewed on an annual basis.

The program utilizes therapy dogs, not service dogs, to pursue its mission — though they have some similarities.

“Therapy dogs often get confused with service dogs,” Duren said. “The main difference between the two is that therapy dogs work to provide affection and comfort, while service dogs provide assistance for their handler.”

The Pete’s Pet Posse program aims to begin service at OSU-OKC in fall 2023.

OSU-OKC is joining OSU-Tulsa and OSU Center for Health Science as branch campuses that are supporting a Pete’s Pet Posse program.

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