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Animal therapy focus in Winona State University study

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WINONA, Minn. (KTTC) -- In all walks of life, some individuals turn to therapy in order to cope with a variety of mental and physical health challenges.

Sometimes our four-legged friends turn out to be the best medicine, and some researchers at Winona State University are showing how.

Those intrigued by animal therapy gathered Tuesday to hear Dr. Jo Hittner and Katy Christensen discuss their findings on why dogs and horses work wonders in the therapeutic process.

Winston, a licensed therapy dog, was also in the room to show how just petting or sitting by an animal can provide instant stress relief and a little love.

"He can be just like an actual therapy dog and Linda talked about how sometimes she just walks with him around campus and people can interact with him then," said Christensen.  "There's a program around finals where he comes to the library and helps relieve the stress during finals."

Christensen said it was her love of animals and interest in learning more about their impact on therapy clients that drove her to participate in the study with Dr. Hittner.

Christensen said animals can help in a variety of therapeutic practices including physical and mental, but also in helping students with reading, and even swimming.

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