Pellissippi State campuses to become HABIT facilities

students with dog
Pellissippi State Community College students interact with a HABIT dog during finals week.

Pellissippi State Community College, in partnership with Human-Animal Bond in Tennessee, is on track to make all five of its campuses official HABIT facilities.

HABIT is a program that sponsors visits from medically and behaviorally screened dogs, cats and rabbits to facilities like schools, retirement and assisted-living facilities, rehabilitation facilities and hospitals. For many years, Pellissippi State has hosted HABIT animals on its campuses during final exam weeks as a de-stressor for students.

Pellissippi State’s Blount County Campus is the first among the college’s campuses to attain its HABIT facility designation. Pellissippi State is the first community college in the state to be named a HABIT facility.

“I have a Maine Coon cat who is a HABIT animal,” said Betsy Boyd, a counselor on the Blount County Campus. “I have been bringing him by campus to visit, and he became an immediate hit with our students, faculty and staff.”

HABIT facilities can host volunteers with HABIT animals at any time. For Pellissippi State students, that means that comfort animals can be available more than simply during finals weeks.

Elizabeth Firestone, director of Counseling Services at Pellissippi State, said, “We like the idea of promoting visits from HABIT animals to all of our campuses because our students have so much stress in their lives — from the simple stresses of the college workload to the fact that many of our students are juggling multiple roles at home and at school.”

HABIT, which is housed at the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine, promotes the benefits of human interaction with animals, including lowered stress and improved senses of wellbeing. More information about HABIT is available at vetmed.tennessee.edu.

For more information about Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu or call 865-694-6400.