College introduces therapy dogs


Emma Gibson

Student Grace Umba (left) takes a moment to pet Coco, a therapy dog. Micki owns Coco and brings her to campus as part of the dog therapy program.

Briana Campos, Layout Editor

Dallas College Brookhaven Campus has received visits from a few new furry friends – trained therapy dogs. 

The dogs are scheduled to appear on Dallas College campuses Monday through Thursday at 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. This will continue until the semester ends. 

Dayana Garcia, a student, stopped to pet Coco in the Commons Courtyard. Garcia said she was enamored with the dogs when she spotted them from across the Courtyard. 

Garcia said, “All I wanted was to pet them. I didn’t know they were therapy dogs until I asked, but they did distract me so I’d say they helped me forget about my worries for a moment.”


Animal-assisted therapy is a growing field that uses dogs or other animals to help people cope with health problems such as heart disease, cancer and mental health disorders, according to Mayo Clinic. 

The act of petting animals releases hormones such as serotonin, prolactin and oxytocin which play a role in elevating happiness and decreasing anxiety, according to UCLA Health.

Sharon Davis, chief business continuity officer, said the idea to bring the dogs to campus originally came from the Dallas College Business Continuity Office, which made arrangements to bring therapy dogs to Dallas College campuses. 

“We hope that our students and employees will see the therapy dogs as a means of comfort. Our goal is to reduce anxiety, fear and discomfort while providing proactive means of coping with stress,” she said in an email.

Jennifer Allen, a history professor at Brookhaven Campus, is a member of Heart of Texas Therapy Dogs which has partnered with Dallas College. 

Heart of Texas Therapy Dogs is a local all volunteer nonprofit group in Dallas-Fort Worth. 

The organization was originally founded in 2003 and has grown to 150 dog owners who visit over 70 facilities in North Texas.

“They asked for the therapy team right as school started back, but it takes a bit to organize seven different campuses,” Allen said. She and her therapy dog, Lynx, have been coming on campus since the end of August.

Allen said throughout her time volunteering, she has witnessed how Lynx has positively affected the moods of Brookhaveans. 

“Stress hits people differently and emotions come out differently for different people so this just gives them an opportunity to kinda deal with it,” she said. 


Abraham Negrete, a student, stopped to pet Lynx as Allen was walking around campus. “I was very stressed this morning and the comfort of an actual dog being here, another living object that I can pet to transfer my love and affection through the motion of a touch helped me be less stressed,” he said.

Micki and her therapy dog Coco are a part of Heart of Texas Therapy Dogs. Volunteers said they cannot provide their last names.

Micki said she prefers to approach people on a one-on-one basis instead of waiting around in a group with other therapy dogs. 

“You never know what kind of impact it’s going to have and if there’s a chance that it has a positive affect on somebody’s day that otherwise was having a horrible day or depressed then that’s all that matters,” she said.

Micki said being able to have an impact on a person’s life with a dog is life-changing. She said you don’t have to be a surgeon, doctor or psychiatrist to have an impact on someone’s stress or anxiety levels.


Aside from the dogs, Davis said Dallas College is providing other services to bring relief to those who may feel anxious or stressed on campus. 

Chaplains are also present on campus. They work on a rotating basis Mondays through Thursdays. The chaplains are based in L Building, but can also be spotted walking around engaging with students, staff and faculty. 

In a collegewide email to employees, Davis said Alliance Partners, the college’s employee assistance provider, will have counselors on campuses leading group wellness sessions for employees who may be experiencing fear, anxiety or grief. The schedule for these sessions is available on SharePoint.