Boynton Health's Pet Away Worry & Stress

PAWS 2024 Anniversary banner

Boynton Health’s PAWS (Pet Away Worry and Stress) gives students a chance to de-stress by interacting with animals right here on campus! PAWS has cats, dogs, chickens, and even miniature horses that students can meet, putting them in a better state of mind. 

About Boynton Health's PAWS

Boynton Health’s PAWS program provides Animal-Assisted Interactions (AAI) with registered therapy animals:


  • Dogs.
  • Cats.
  • Rabbits.
  • Chickens.
  • Licensed social worker at each session.

While these sessions are not therapy, they are therapeutic and part of the University’s initiative to support student mental health.

PAWS by the numbers: 11,000+ Visits annually since 2013; 100+ Human + animal teams support PAWS annually; 4 Days per week throughout the academic year; 9 out of 10 students agreed PAWS helped them manage their stress

PAWS is a safe, welcoming, and fun setting that is open and FREE to everyone who is part of the University of Minnesota community. No appointment is needed, and students are invited to attend PAWS as often as they can throughout the school year to interact with the therapy animals, their handlers, and other attendees.

Boynton Health's PAWS Schedule


Volunteer with Your Pet for PAWS

Currently, there are close to 100 different registered human-animal teams who volunteer their time at Boynton Health's PAWS. The program is always open to new teams joining the fun! All species are welcome to join PAWS as long as the team is registered with Pet Partners, TDI, ITA, or Alliance of Therapy Dogs (or you are in the process of training and working toward registration).

To learn more, you are invited to attend an informational overview and training about the PAWS program. These sessions are held “on demand” at various times during the year, and typically via Zoom. 

Please RSVP for this training, and additional details regarding parking and location on campus will be sent to you before we meet.

Schedule a PAWS+ session with your group!

Reservations for PAWS+ sessions are now closed for the spring 2024 semester. Please fill out this form for summer 2024 and the upcoming 2024-25 academic year. Thank you!

PAWS+ sessions are any special events with the PAWS program to support the mental health of students, staff, and faculty or community events. PAWS+ is a one to two hour session, scheduled between the hours of 9 am - 8 pm, Monday through Thursday.

Fridays and weekend events can only be scheduled on a case-by-case basis. These sessions are not available when the University of Minnesota is closed, at the same time, or within 1 hour of the start/stop time of weekly PAWS sessions. 

PAWS+ sessions are handled on a first-come, first-served basis and must be received at least 10 days before your scheduled event. The cost for a PAWS+ session is $150/hour starting July 1, and you can request a PAWS+ session by completing this form.

Frequent Questions

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When did Boynton Health's PAWS begin?

Boynton Health's PAWS held its first session on November 13, 2013, and has grown from once a week to a program that is four days a week during the academic year plus some special sessions in the evenings and summer.

How many teams are in Boynton Health's PAWS?

Boynton Health's PAWS has approximately 100 human-animal teams who volunteer their time at UMN.

Can any animal work in the Boynton Health's PAWS program?

The animals that come to PAWS are all domestic animals, and young animals like puppies and kittens, wildlife, or reptiles are not part of the PAWS program as these species do not fit national best practices for AAI programs.

What makes Boynton Health's PAWS animals special?

All animals in the Boynton Health's PAWS program are registered therapy animals which means they, along with their human partner, have completed training, testing, and in-person evaluation to work in public settings – like the University – and support human well-being.

Are the animals in Boynton Health's PAWS also service animals?

The animals in Boynton Health's PAWS are not service animals, emotional support animals (ESAs), or available for adoption.

How can I connect with PAWS on social media?

How can I donate to the PAWS fund?

You can donate through this link. Thanks for the support!

Still have questions? Contact us.

Questions about Boynton Health's PAWS? Contact Tanya Bailey, Boynton Health's PAWS Coordinator at [email protected].

PAWS dog wagging tongue
PAWS volunteers with dog