Pets As Therapy Scheme

Zara is a curly coated retriever and is the University of Bolton’s Pets as Therapy dog. She was first introduced in January 2016 and students were invited to spend time with her in an effort to reduce exam related stress.

Zara has been assessed by Pets As Therapy (PAT) to ensure she has the right temperament for supporting people. Her owner, Fiona Valentine, is the University’s Disability Service Manager.

PAT is a national charity founded in 1983, providing therapeutic visits to hospitals, hospices, nursing and care homes, special needs schools and a variety of other establishments. Since its beginning over 28,000 dogs have become registered PAT dogs.

This is the first time the University of Bolton has brought in pet stress-busters for students, but they are used by several American universities, including Harvard. Research shows that interaction with pets decreases the level of cortisol – or stress hormone – and increases endorphins, known as the happiness hormone.

‘Petting a trained therapy dog in a controlled environment has been shown to reduce people’s blood pressure and heart-rate, and generally instil a feeling of well-being for the recipient, with some of these changes lasting well beyond the initial interaction," said Dr Jacqui Harrison, Senior Psychology Lecturer at the University of Bolton.

Feedback from students who saw Zara for her first visit in January 2016 was fantastic - every student who provided feedback said they would definitely use the service again and 80 per cent of them said spending some time with Zara had definitely improved their anxiety levels.

Zara will be here to see students in 2016/17 as detailed below:

11th Jan 12.15-4pm - Deane

13th Jan 12-2pm - Queens

1st Feb 12-2pm - Deane

1st Feb 3-5pm - Orlando

2nd Mar 12.15-4pm - Deane

4th Apr 12.15-4pm - Deane 

15th May 12.15-4pm- Deane

No need to book - just come to the location stated on the day.


Student Centre

University of Bolton

Deane Road



tel: 01204 903733




 last updated September 2016