Animal exchange program educates, calms students

Something Good

A household member at Milton Hershey School draws a lot of attention.

Luigi is a rabbit that’s cared for by students.

“I think it’s a pretty good idea because we get to have a chance to interact with nature and see how it works,” said Joshua Figuroa. a Milton Hershey student.

The Animal Exchange Program is a partnership between Milton Hershey School and the Humane Society of Harrisburg.

“It’s called the Animal Exchange Program and we place an animal for the promise of the students to take care of the animal,” said Amy Kaunas, executive director of Humane Society of Harrisburg.

Other pocket pets include turtles, rats, fish, birds, and ferrets.

“People aren’t typically coming to adopt these animals, so their length of stay was a lot longer than the dogs or cats. So, it helps get them out of the shelter and it’s really a direct benefit to the animals themselves,” Kaunas said.

The animal’s young caretakers benefit, too.

“It really helps with homesick issues the students may have and it really helps with responsibility; feeding an animal, watering it, taking care of brushing, doing its nails,” Milton Hershey instructional adviser Jennifer Wise said. “The emotional part of it, it keeps the kids calm, petting an animal.”

“It makes me feel happy. Being around him makes me feel good,”  said Joshua Figuroa, a Milton Hershey student.

“He is soft and a good friend to have to pet, to be by your side,” fourth-grader Taylor Dick said. 

For more information on the Animal Exchange Program, visit the Humane Society of Harrisburg website.

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