The Westfield Voice

The Student News Site of Westfield State University

The Westfield Voice

The Westfield Voice

WSU Pet Therapy Goes Virtual


Puppies are coming to Westfield State University through the Counseling Center’s new virtual pet therapy program this semester. 

This program was implemented in response to COVID-19 to provide the Westfield State community with relaxing animal content safely.

Julia Nedry, Senior Manager of Outreach at WSU’s Counseling Center, explained that due to the popularity of in-person pet therapy, a virtual alternative seemed like a necessity. 

“All of the things we’re doing during this time is not the same. We’re not trying to do something that is just as good, we’re trying to do something,” she said.

Students are responding positively to virtual pet therapy. Madison Czerniawski, a senior at WSU, commented on how this program brings together the campus community. 

“It still offers you a chance to see other people that are on campus and be part of the campus community, even if we’re not on campus. I think the community aspect is a really big idea for that.” 

Brian Cahillane, Interim Director of the Counseling Center, explained how this is beneficial to the community: “People are very proud of their pets, by and large, so it’s… it’s a feel good thing. That’s really what we’re trying to accomplish, is creating this feel good space at a time where many people may not be feeling good.” 

Outreach interns are running virtual pet therapy on the @reachoutwsu Instagram. Anyone can submit photos or videos of their pets to be featured. 

Cahillane also mentioned an unexpected perk to virtual pet therapy: “Unlike regular pet therapy, you can go back to this whenever you want. You can recall those good feelings over and over again if you want to.”

Students, like Czerniawski, recall not going to in-person pet therapy as much as they would like due to conflicting schedules; virtual pet therapy allows everyone to enjoy the animals. 

Czerniawski recalled fond memories of in-person pet therapy, and expressed great interest in the virtual program, “It was a good way to relax, and kind of take my mind off of the class, and that day.”

Czerniawski’s dog, Harley, even made a guest appearance during the interview. There’s no denying that Westfield students look forward to pet therapy, no matter the means. 

The Westfield State University Counseling Center offers one-on-one relaxation coaching and self-help resources in addition to virtual pet therapy. For more information on the services provided, visit

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