Boynton Health's Pet Away Worry & Stress

About Boynton Health's PAWS

College life is unlike any other life period because of the depth and breadth of change one can experience in such a vibrant, concentrated setting. For many students, going to college is a stressful period when the rigors of academia become heavily intertwined with their social and productive lives. In these distinct communities, students face the complexities of managing life-school balance while also navigating emerging adulthood, all in the same developmental space of separating from the grounding supports of family, friends, and home. Leaving home and entering college also separates students from their pets, a task many young people experience as more difficult than saying goodbye to other established forms of social support. 

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

Boynton Health’s PAWS program provides Animal-Assisted Interactions (AAI) with registered therapy animals - including dogs, cats, rabbits, and chickens - and a licensed clinical social worker staffs each session. While these sessions are not therapy, they are certainly therapeutic and part of the University’s initiative to support student mental health. 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


Announcement: We are currently not accepting PAWS+ requests for the Spring 2023 semester. However, we are accepting requests for PAWS+ for the summer semester and the academic school year of 2023-2024.

Schedule a PAWS+ session with your group!

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 1- to 2-hour session scheduled between the hours of 9 am-8 pm, Monday through Thursday. Fridays and weekend events can 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. Review the PAWS calendar  to confirm your request falls outside those parameters. 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 $125/hour, and you can request a PAWS+ session by completing this form.

PLEASE NOTE: Requesting a PAWS+ session does not guarantee that the event will occur. PAWS+ sessions are scheduled based on the availability of the PAWS teams.

Boynton Health's PAWS Contact Info

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

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.

Still have questions? Contact us.

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