The Daily Gamecock

Pet-a-Pup program provides puppy love between classes

Tuesday mornings on Greene Street are filled with vendors of all kinds for the Healthy Carolina Farmers Market, including some furry friends from Palmetto Animal Assisted Life Services, or PAALS. The Pet-a-Pup program enables students to enjoy puppies between classes, along with becoming more educated about service dogs.

PAALS brings the service dogs in training to USC in order to get them better acclimated to people. Maureen Leary, a trainer at PAALS, sees many benefits of having students interact with their service dogs.

“From PAALS’s point of view, our dogs come and they get socialized," Leary said. "They see lots of different people, deal with crowds, learn how to behave in a crowd and with strangers."

Leary mentioned the importance of using dogs as a stress reliever to promote mental health in students. She especially enjoys bringing the dogs in December to provide students with a distraction during the busy season.

“Who doesn’t like petting a puppy, particularly when you’re in the midst of studying for exams?” said Leary.

PAALS is making a huge impact on the daily lives of individuals in Columbia and the Pet-a-Pup program allows students to see a glimpse of the necessity of a service dog. The purpose of PAALS is to enrich the lives of adults and children with disabilities by providing them a well-trained service dog. Julie Campbell, an apprentice trainer, emphasized the important work PAALS does to the people in the community.

“PAALS is helping people with various disabilities just live life to the fullest," Campbell said. 

"[To] someone in a wheelchair, our dog gives them way more independence than they would have," she said.

The Pet-a-Pup program also gives students more knowledge about PAALS and the purpose of the organization in Columbia.  

“All sorts of programs like this help spread the word about service dogs, provide education, and just a lot of fun,” said Campbell.

The program was well attended by students throughout the duration of the Farmers Market.

“It made my day because I like puppies, and the puppies just make my heart happy,” said third-year journalism student Katie Goodale, who gave the dogs from PAALS a lot of attention.

Students have the opportunity to take care of the PAALS dogs and gain a better understanding about the process of training a service dog. To become more involved with PAALS on campus, contact Cocky’s Canine PAALS. 


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