Last Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., therapy animals from Healing Hooves Helping Paws visited Albion’s campus.
Assistant Director of Campus Wellness, Melissa Sommers, said this is the third consecutive year the program has visited campus, adding that they visit in the fall and the spring. Two of the program’s employees, Nich Pollak and his wife, Jennie Pollak, accompanied the animals, set up the event and hung out with students, answering any questions that arose.
Nich Pollak said that Healing Hooves Helping Paws is based out of Parma, where they hold group animal therapy sessions.
“We have a whole animal-assisted therapy farm,” Nich Pollack said. “We have alpacas, miniature horses, pigs – some bigger animals that we can’t bring to campus easily.”
Nich Pollak said the animal-assisted therapy program works because allowing people to spend time with animals encourages them to learn coping skills in a unique way that differs from conventional therapy options.
According to Healing Hooves Helping Paws’ website, “animals can help reduce anxiety, depression and impulsivity.”
“I’m actually a professor of social work at another university, and I work in the mental health system as well,” Nich Pollack said. “For me, it’s fun watching all the students come up and work through stuff that they don’t know they’re actually working through.”
Animals that visited campus included two goats named S’mores and Fawn, a great pyrenees named Stormy, an aussiedoodle named Henry, two bunnies named Princess Buttercup and Trixie and a hedgehog named Sonic. Sommers said to keep an eye out for Healing Hooves Helping Paws to return in the spring because last year, chicks and ducklings visited campus as well.
“We like bringing them back every year,” Sommers said.