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USF's Shimberg Library brings in a four-legged 'employee'

TAMPA — The University of South Florida recently "employed" a golden retriever named Snitch to act as an ambassador for the Shimberg Health Sciences Library staff to its USF Health students.

In the past, USF has brought therapy dogs to the campus during the weeks of final exams to brighten students' spirits while they study. The success that these dogs have had in raising morale has inspired the library to bring Snitch in periodically to act as an ambassador to the student body.

Snitch was trained by her owner, Jill Baker, in coordination with an organization called Pet Partners, and she is a certified therapy dog.

"Her ambassadorship adds a little fun to the library," said Baker, who is also the library's fiscal and business specialist. "Students work hard and their lives can be pretty intense."

Snitch began working as a liaison to students in August. She has since participated in a few events and has greeted students in the library several times a week. Snitch was also present at a club fair that students took part in to advertise and recruit for their extracurricular organizations.

Snitch has quickly become popular among students, and many know who she is before they meet her. Snitch is also a welcome addition among staff, as she wears her own USF lanyard and an official ID card designating her as a USF employee.

Baker owned Snitch before Snitch became a therapy dog. "She has always had such a loving disposition." Baker said. "I'm a USF employee, but I wanted to get her certified with Pet Partners because I know she is great with people."

"She has been so well received," said Rose Bland, the library's director. "Med students will even come over, in their scrubs, from the veterans hospital just to see her. In two weeks she already has a reputation."

The response to Snitch is also inspiring the further use of therapy dogs at Shimberg.

"We think maybe once a month we could bring the therapy dogs in," Baker said. "And we know Snitch would love to come to the library 'at least' once a month."