Furry friends foster felicity

Service dogs and stray cats alike provide students with stress relief.


Courtesy of Belen Lopez

Jessica Goddard, Writer

Whether animals visit students through an organized petting zoo, a walk across the street or a visit on Metzger lawn, students enjoy seeing the furry creatures who grace the community with their carefree spirits and comforting touch.

Sense of stability

Studies show the presence of animals on campus — faculty’s pets, service animals or stray cats — provide emotional stability and a sense of home at college.

“I think no matter what animal, people get really excited because we don’t see animals all the time,” said Chelsea Moore, sophomore art major and a resident of Stewart Hall. “I think it’s just fun to take care of something and have it be a communal thing, too.”

Throughout campus, cats prance among the bushes, about the dormitories and around the students. Though several cats hang around the campus, one in particular has caught the attention of multiple students due to his friendly demeanor.

A search for a home

A cat nicknamed Stewie lived for months as the student-elected honorary resident cat of Stewart Hall. Stewie spent most of his time charming the residents of one side of a women’s floor in Stewart Hall, Zao. As the students came and went from their rooms, he would cuddle with them and attempt to sneak into their rooms. Eventually he became the floor’s unofficial pet, and students would leave food and blankets out for him.

“So around the dorm, he would just kind of wander around. It was really funny because he would follow people, and follow them up to the dorm,” said Belen Lopez sophomore business major and resident of Stewart Hall.

When interterm came, Lopez, worried Stewie would not get fed, so she had her nearby aunt feed him every other day. As the semester began, Lopez realized Stewie would face the same problem come summer break, and thus, she set off on a mission to find him a home.

“I started talking to people and asking them if they would be able to adopt him because over summer he wouldn’t really have a place to go if nobody was going to adopt him forever,” Lopez said.

Finally, Lopez found Karrah Bakalar, English and art double major and off-campus student, to adopt Stewie at the beginning of the spring 2017 semester. Now Stewie lives with Bakalar and acts unofficially as an emotional support animal for her during a stressful season of college.

“[Animals] give the kind of love, emotional support that we don’t really get when we’re at school,” Lopez said. “Cats in particular, you can feed them. You can pet them. You can cuddle with them, and they don’t ask you to listen to their problems.”

Stewie became an infamous member of the Biola community and Stewart Hall became known as the “cat dorm,” mostly because of him, but also due to the multitude of other cats who wander around the area.

“I would just even say the presence of an animal is obvious. [Animals are] an obvious presence and [they bring] comfort,” Moore said.

Increased productivity

The presence of animals ranges far beyond that of stray cats, however. Little by little, Biola students are bringing more service animals onto campus by the grace of Americans with Disabilities Act.

“[Having a service dog] has definitely been really important, and I love how Biola made it possible for us to be here,” said Claire Walker, senior sociology major and owner of a service dog named Lily.

Walker lives on campus with Lily to help her with a neurological disorder she has been diagnosed with. She expresses gratefulness that she can keep Lily with her as she attends Biola.

“I firmly believe [animals on campus] increase productivity, and Lily is a little more than a pet to me. She’s a service dog, so she helps keep me upright,” Walker said. “If it weren’t for her, I wouldn’t be able to be here.”

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