Therapy dogs called in to help with Hong Kong exam stress trauma

19 July 2019

Dr Dog team on exam results day

As thousands of students waited on university entrance exam results, qualified Animals Asia therapy dogs were called in to ease the burden and reduce stress.

Earlier this month, the Diploma of Secondary Education (DSE) exam results were announced in Hong Kong – a moment which decides the future of thousands of teenagers.

The Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups said half of Hong Kong high school students waiting for university entrance exam results are highly stressed.

The youth group said 153 students had sought help through telephone hotlines and online counselling since the middle of June, with the majority citing DSE exams as the major cause.

To ease the burden and reduce the potential for depression, despair and self-harm, universities and schools called in Dr Dog canine therapists to help students cope with a momentous day.

Animals Asia Animal Welfare Education Manager Karina O’Carroll said:

“These exams are notoriously stressful for students as they impact upon university decisions and therefore have a long-term effect on these young people’s futures.

“When we heard that tensions were expected to be higher than normal this year, we quickly mobilised our dedicated volunteers and amazing canine therapists who were ready to help within 72 hours.”

On the day of the exams results being announced, qualified canine therapists from Animals Asia’s Dr Dog programme were at Tung Wah Group of Hospitals Mrs. Wu York Yu Memorial College to help.

From 8am on July 10, Dr Truffly, Dr Fay Fay, Dr Nau I and Dr BB provided relief, support and respite for 125 students as they awaited their results.

Students were able to greet and pet the dogs, activities which have been shown to reduce stress levels.

Marnie Yau, Animals Asia Dr Dog Manager said:

“The presence of the Dr Dog team definitely calmed the mood of everyone at the school that morning. Staff, parents and students were all feeling the pressure and the situation can be very tense, but when they entered the school hall and saw the therapy dogs, tails wagging, ready to greet them with unconditional love, their anxiety, worry and nerves faded away.”

After receiving their results, some students returned to the school hall where the canine therapists were on standby to spend more time with them while they processed their results.

Since 1991, over 500,000 people have benefited from Animals Asia’s pioneering Dr Dog programme. Success and high demand has seen the initiative spread to mainland China, Taiwan, the Philippines, India, Japan and Malaysia.

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