Warminster mother uses therapy dogs to help college students

For six years, Janine Erato has been the face of the Drexel University Therapy Dogs program.
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Janine Erato does it all. She's a married mother of three college graduates and is the owner of a dog training business called Wags to Wisdom.

"It's training and working with dogs of all ages," said Erato of her business.

In 2015, she caught wind of an open position at a therapy dog program at Drexel University. And since she already had experience training dogs and humans to work together, she was hired shortly after applying. But the program needed some revamping and Erato knew just what to do.

"We're not waiting in an office hoping somebody will see us. We are going out and about, we are in their classrooms, we are in their dorm lobbies," said Erato of Warminster Pennsylvania.

For six years, she has been the face of the Drexel University Therapy Dogs program. But she says it goes beyond doggie visitations.

"You will hear me talk to the students and say, 'Are you eating food? Do you need some food? Should we go get some coffee together? We're here for you,'" says Erato. "College is stressful. It is not stressful just during midterms and finals, it's stressful from day one until the time you graduate."

She believes that college students need a familiar and loving environment to thrive.

"It's often the first time away from home, their families, their friends, their beloved pets. And for some who are overseas and international students, they are gone for years before they can afford to go home. Drexel becomes their family, their home away from home," said Erato.

Fourteen hours a week, Erato attends campus events using her personal dogs -- three Cane Corsos, Chai, Espresso, & Java -- to provide emotional and therapeutic support to the students.

"It's unconditional love and a judgment-free zone. There's nothing that those dogs want other than to be loved and be getting kisses and played with," she says.

Every week the program visits 75 to 420 students, and moving forward she only hopes to help more.

Tell us about the person or organization that is doing great things in your community.

Copyright © 2021 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.