By Traci Norwood, Staff Writer
Two University of Maine at Farmington (UMF) students have taken charge of the new club Paws to the Rescue. Alexa Lynam, an early childhood education major with a minor and Emily Marron, a psychology major are the two students whose love of pets and helping others has brought them together to create this new club.
The idea for the club seemed natural for Lynam, a lifelong animal lover, who said, “honestly, ever since I can remember. My family has always had pets.” Marron also noted that, “growing up I always had a pet and ever since I have always loved being around animals. They are amazing beings and so smart. We can learn a lot from just being around any kind of animal.”
The club plans to incorporate different forms of assisted therapy to help others. Lynam explained how these trained animals have the innate ability to facilitate therapy, love unconditionally, and brighten the spirits of those around them.
Marron said, “They can really influence your mood. If you’re having a bad day how can you not smile when a cute puppy comes around and kisses your face?”
Their love of animals is not the only passion that fuels this club.
Marron said that their goal is to “promote awareness for animal assisted therapy, but to train students’ dogs to become therapy dogs (and eventually assist in schools, hospitals, etc. with these dogs where they are needed), work along with the local animal shelter to train and help get their dogs adopted and do fundraising.”
Lynam and Marron have several goals in mind as the club moves forward. These two want to use the club to advocate for assisted animal therapy. These support programs could be for those with emotional needs, services for children with autism spectrum disorders, and to show the importance of rescue dogs.
The club has several plans already in the works for this spring and upcoming fall. The club hopes to hold a pet-friendly 5K this spring and in the fall plans to team up with the Franklin County Animal Shelter (FCAS) for a 5K in October. Also, look for them to be teaming up with FCAS to find adoptable dogs a home. A fundraiser will also be held at UMF called ,“kissing booths,” involving dogs, along with other pet-friendly events and fundraisers.
Pets to the Rescue does not only benefit the dogs or other pets the members work with, but the members as well. Marron stated, “we are firm believers that although humans are the ones who take care and sometimes rescue animals, specifically dogs, animals can also ‘rescue’ people.”
Marron explained the important effects therapy dogs can have on individuals. Therapy dogs can help those with a variety of medical problems such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, children and adults with autism, or those struggling through traumatic events.
Moving forward, both Marron and Lynam wish to use these skills in their future professions.
In the future, Lynam hopes to use these opportunities to one day be, “working one-on-one with young children with autism, connecting and pairing them with supportive pets to promote physical, emotional, and psychological development.” Marron plans to complete her undergraduate degree at UMF and plans to continue her schooling to get a masters in social work. She said “even a little support, especially from a loving animal, can go a long way.”
After receiving senate recognition, the club has already gained thirty members along with six furbabies, which is what the pet members of the club are referred to. The club meets Wednesday nights at 7pm in Roberts 103. Anyone is welcome to join.