By Dave Crawley

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — With their tuition and debt increasing and job prospects decreasing, there’s no denying that today’s college students are under a lot of pressure.

A recent poll found 85 percent of students reported feeling stressed out every day, and 42 percent reported feeling depressed about college.

But some students at one local college are getting stress relief from some special visitors.

Mid-terms are coming at Carlow University.

Time for a study break? That’s where little Buster and big Luca come in.

The Pets with Heart program is a mission for Sharon Costello and Pat Montini of the Sisters of St. Joseph. The monthly trip from Baden is part of the sisters’ outreach program.

“Connecting with as we would say, our dear neighbor, through the human-animal bond,” said Sr. Sharon Costello, of the Sisters of St. Joseph. “And just kind of build relationships, offer comfort and bring joy.”

Carlow counselor Chloe Heimbuch says the furry pals are in demand.

“The students love it and they’ve asked for it,” said Heimbuch. “After we’ve had them at these events, they ask, ‘Where’s Buster? Where’s Luca?’” says Heimbuch. “It’s wonderful.”

It’s further proof of the premise that pets are stress relievers.

“It’s exciting to see them here, and be able to stop and take five seconds and not worry about getting your homework done on time or running from one class to another,” said Shaleia McElligott, a Carlow senior. “It’s just a quick break and a refresher.”

Buster and Luca also visit hospitals, nursing homes and they even make house calls.

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