Dogs' Day Out -- in Ateneo

October 20, 2015

Dogs were allowed entry into Ateneo’s Loyola Heights campus after a prohibition of several years.

Who let the dogs out?

The Department of Biology and SY 2014-2015 Most Outstanding Student Group (Loyola Schools Awards for Leadership and Service) Ateneo Biological Organization – eXplore. eXperience. eXcel. (BOx) held the first ever Bring Your Own Dog (BYOD) Day at the Science Education Complex (SEC) Field last 12 October 2015. The event was part of BOx’s annual Animal Welfare Week (AWW), which ran from 12 to 16 October. The primary goal of BYOD Day was to allow members of the Loyola Schools (LS) community, particularly the students, to interact with dogs during the midterm week, a particularly stressful period for students during the academic year. Such a practice, which is a form of Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT), is gaining popularity and has been seen to be effective in many universities in the United States and other countries. The administrative offices of the LS were keen on the concept, particularly with measures for security and safety of all participants having been ensured by the organizers.

The BYOD Day Tent on the first day of BOx’s Animal Welfare Week (AWW)

The first three dogs to grace the event—and the longest to stay, thus being the most enamored by the visitors—were Bella (a French bulldog), Cholo (Chihuahua), and Oreo (Siberian husky). Veterinarian Dr. Allan Paulo Valenzuela of the University of the Philippines Veterinary Hospital was on hand to screen the dogs and their vaccination records at the start of the activity. Bubu, a golden retriever, was also brought to the campus by Dr. Carla Azucena, who gave a short talk on the merits of AAT. Azucena is a 2007 BS Biology graduate of the University and a member of the pioneer batch of the Ateneo School of Medicine and Public Health (ASMPH). She is also Chief Steward of CommuniTails, a fledgling AAT group. During the program, which ran from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm, the dogs and their humans were able to play on the SEC Field and interact with visitors—mostly students—in special play pens. The participants also had the opportunity to vote for their choice of Cutest and Most Striking Dogs. Over 200 visitors came to pet and play with the 10 dogs in attendance.

The first dog to arrive was Bella, a French bulldog

The feedback was largely positive, with several visitors having said afterward that the activity helped relieve their stress over pending examinations and other concerns. Ultimately, this was the outcome that the organizers wished to see, and so the success of the first BYOD Day will hopefully lead to a yearly (or semestral) offering of the event and perhaps even a structure for AAT for members of the LS community within the school system.

Dr. Carla Azucena (front row, second from right) gave a talk on Animal-Assisted Therapy

On that same day, fifth- and sixth-grade members of the Ateneo Grade School student group Ateneo Society for Animal Protection (ASAP) visited AWW with their Moderators Kaye Bustamante and Marianne Lim. They participated in a poster-making contest with “Safari” as the theme. The winning group of students won gift packages from AWW’s sponsors.

BYOD Day was sponsored by Doggies’ Choice, EzyDog, and Pet One.