K-9 Bailey was stopped when walking the campus for four students to get a few moments of relaxation and to take their mind off schoolwork.

By Sydney Burken

Since December of 2020, students at the University of South Florida (USF), Tampa campus, have had the opportunity to visit or be visited by therapy dog K-9 Bailey. Her first responsibility is to answer calls related to violent crimes. She will sit with the victim of the violent crime and calm them to the point where they are comfortable enough to speak further with law enforcement.

Earlier in the year of 2020, it had been discussed to have a therapy dog available to the USF community. When the discussion was solidified in who would be taking this responsibility on, officer Nicole Marchesano produced a PowerPoint presentation filled with statistics and facts on the need and justification to have a therapy dog on campus and available to all students, faculty as well as staff. By December 2020, K-9 Bailey was a part of Marchesano’s team.

Marchesano created a ‘Bailey Button,’ which can be found on the USFPD website under resources. This button allows USF students easy access to requesting K-9 Bailey. K-9 Bailey and her handler, Marchesano are on campus from 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday through Thursday. However, they adjust their schedule when necessary to meet the needs of the USF community.

The reasons for requests and the ones at the top of the list are people in need. This can include someone seeking K-9 Bailey due to having high anxiety for a plethora of reasons, such as a loved one having died, dealing with a break-up with a significant other, struggling to stay focused an exam and more. K-9 Bailey’s job is to provide them with the comfort they need.

The University of South Florida community is able to request K-9 Bailey by simply stopping her if you see them on campus, email, call or using the Bailey Button. The Bailey Button is also used for groups who want Marchesano to show up to their dorms for fun, staff meetings for distress or public/social functions.

“K-9 Bailey can be described as my 3-year-old, goofy, sweet, loving mental health crusader. K-9 Bailey has been with me since I got her in December of 2020. K-9 Bailey and I have a multidisciplinary therapy license and … an advanced AKC Canine Good Citizen certification. She is also a graduate of Project Pup, which allows Bailey to work in hospital settings,” said Marchesano.

For more information on K-9 Bailey and what services as a therapy dog she provides, please visit www.usf.edu/administrative-services/university-police/about/contact-up.aspx, email usfpdpio@usf.edu or call 813-974-2628.

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