Therapy goats calm exam stress for ECU students

Therapy goats calm exam stress for ECU students
Published: May. 2, 2022 at 10:17 PM EDT
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - For thousands of college students across the East, the pressure is on as they prepare for final exams.

Students at East Carolina University were met with an unlikely visitor to campus. Just as their week was set into motion, pet therapy came to the rescue.

“ECU has a couple of things where there would be dogs, and there was a parrot one time,” said freshman Caroline Bridges. “So, they had those little setups and that was really nice to see. Any animals around makes you feel comforting and makes it feel like home.”

This time, goats, old and brand new, did the comforting.

They came to the Greenville campus from the farm of Sarah Ratley, also known as “The Painted Farmer.”

Ratley says goats provide therapeutic benefits that more traditional animals cannot.

“Some people have allergies or sensitivities to cats and dogs,” said Ratley. “Some people also have a fear of cats and dogs.”

According to Mental Health America, 46-percent of Americans meet the criteria for a diagnosable mental health condition at some time in their lives, and half of those people develop the condition by the age of 14.

“Goats are very novel and it’s very exciting I think for the students to see something, an animal that they’re not used to, as well as, these particular goats have been around humans since they were tiny babies and they’re used to all that interaction,” continued Ratley.

Some students came to the library specifically for the goats. For others, it was a welcomed surprise.

“In my group chat someone said, ‘There’s goats in the library,’ and I swear I’ve never walked faster in my life!” said freshman Stephanie Stewart.

It isn’t just exam season stressing these students out.

“I just moved into my apartment yesterday, so I have exams this week, I’m moving into an apartment, and now I’m holding a goat,” Stewart said.

With so much on their plates, the goats gave the students a boost.

“Honestly, I really think this made me more awake and a lot more energized,” said Bridges. “I think I’m going to go back into studying a lot more ready to study and instead of just wanting to go back to sleep.”

Although the goats have made their way back to their farm in Wilson County, you can find pet therapy across the East.

Many animal shelters and humane societies have volunteer programs in place to spend some time with four-legged friends.

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