Puppy Love or a Parasitism?
Is CapU stressing out animals to help students de-stress?
SARAH SCHMIDT // CONTRIBUTOR
Illustration by Jackie Duck
Capilano University students have the opportunity to play with dogs to de-stress during exam week, at the end of every semester. This is not a unique idea, as many universities have similar programs to help students get through exams. But how much thought goes into the well-being of the animals?
While so far, there have been no reported issues with these events at CapU, and both trainers and students seem to enjoy it immensely, other universities have come across problems. The University of Canberra in Australia has a “stress less” petting zoo event, where students could “pet puppies and cuddle chickens.” But recently, the animal activist group PETA has called out the University of Canberra regarding their petting zoo.
The animal-welfare group said that a university campus is no place for a petting zoo, as loud busy environments around strangers aren’t good for the wellbeing of young animals, and ironically, will cause them stress. In response, the University cancelled their petting zoo and put a different event together for the occasion. This response raises the question as to whether CapU should do the same, but after closer inspection it’s clear the events aren’t comparable.
Dogs and farm animals are very different, dogs have been socialized to be around humans and often thrive on the companionship, whereas farm animals can have varying temperaments. Additionally, not everyone knows how to properly handle these animals, while most people know how to treat a dog. Young farm animals should not be in petting zoos as they are more delicate and could easily be stressed. The well being of the animal should always come first and it is to the responsibility of the owner or trainer to avoid knowingly put an animal in harm’s way.
While PETA does make a fair point about stressing out animals, the messages pushed by this group should definitely be taken with a grain of salt. During their “Holocaust on Your Plate” campaign, they publicly shared images and acted out scenes comparing the everyday food you eat to the horrific events that took place during WWII as well as insisting that Jesus was a vegetarian. Let’s not forget about their 2014 scandal where during that year 2,454 of the 3,369 cats to enter their shelters were euthanized, and only 16 cats were actually adopted, and the rest were sent to other shelters. Evidently, they are not the most reliable source of information regarding animal welfare.
While nobody wants to de-stress at the expense of animals, it’s fairly safe to say having fun with Fido during exam week at CapU isn’t a problem, and can be a good time had by all.