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De-stress with dogs

Samantha Simon said that if she didn't live on campus, she's probably adopt Max.

Samantha Simon said that if she didn't live on campus, she's probably adopt Max.

Megan Stokes

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The dogs not only got to walk but got to socialize with one another at the event.

Samantha Simon would adopt Max if she could. But for now, she’ll have to settle for a walk in the afternoon sun.

She is one of hundreds of University of Central Florida students who took advantage of “Pets for Vets”, an outreach group that usually focuses on soldiers with post-traumatic stress disorder but this time aimed their efforts at stressed out UCF students during finals week.

At one point, long lines of students formed to walk and play with the nine dogs brought on campus by Pet Rescue by Judy on April 25.

“I have a Bio II final on Monday and Max has made my day a lot better,” Simon, a freshmen biology major who’s pre-med said, scratching the tan, lab-mix dog’s head. “This is the most relaxed I’ve been all week.”

Debbie Haughton, student counseling liaison with the Veterans Academic Resource Center, which sponsored the Pets for Vets event on campus, said she saw a similar event at a law school and decided to bring it here.

“I promote anything that reduces stress,” she said.

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Frankie, a 3-year-old Pomeranian, takes a break in the arms of Sandra Smith, a volunteer for the UCF veterans center.

The event helps the animals too. Judy Sarullo, owner of no-kill shelter Pet Rescue by Judy based in Sanford, said these dogs desperately need sociallization and the extra exercise. Watching the students with the dogs, she wonders why they aren’t adopted right away. She said Max has been in her shelter for more than a year.

“He’s playful, friendly, well behaved. It makes no sense. He’s such a perfect dog,” she said.

Learn more

For more information on Pet Rescue by Judy, visit www.petrescuebyju...>