The reason I’m writing is that I feel that Bill Nemitz has totally negated the many benefits of pet therapy in the college and university arena in his Dec. 10 column, “Puppies no solace when real trouble hounds you” (Page B1).

It is a proven fact that the human-animal bond is remarkably beneficial in relieving stress, calming and providing comfort … not just for students, but for a vast array of the human race. I certainly do not view pet therapy as “coddling” students (or anyone). They suffer from stress and, although, as Mr. Nemitz points out, they will have to grow up and face the mean old world, why deny them some comfort and distraction? We’re not trying to baby these students or make life easier – they still have to take their exams, after all!

Would he feel the same about therapy animals (dogs) visiting veterans homes, nursing homes, hospitals and rehab facilities, or comforting people who have gone through tragedies? Should they all also essentially be told to “buck up” and “get on with their lives”?

My golden retriever and I are a registered Pet Partners therapy dog team. We visit the University of New England in Portland every semester for their Student Stress Relief program. I see, firsthand, how these students benefit from visiting with and petting my therapy dog. This is not “coddling” the students – this is offering them a small window of time to relax and calm down.

I like to think that all therapy animals, who offer others an opportunity to experience the unique human-animal relationship benefits, would not be criticized and downplayed, but appreciated for their specialness!

Pat Touri

Old Orchard Beach