It can be hard to own a pet. You might not have enough space, enough money or roommates who can tolerate dog hair or cat litter.
Luckily, there are several organizations on and off campus that provide students and community members with the opportunity to spend some quality time with creatures great and small.
Just a short drive from UNC’s campus, but far removed from the burdens of classes and the yellow lights of Davis Library, the many farms scattered across Chapel Hill offer an escape from the stresses of daily life for community members.
“You get down here, and it’s like we’re in our own little world,” Amani Wicker, event coordinator for Spring Haven Farm, said.
Spring Haven Farm offers a variety of programs and events. The entire farm can be accessed with one ticket, which allows you to visit with and pet its many animals, including Highland cows, horses, bunnies, goats and pigs, for as long as the farm is open.
They also offer Baby Goat Zen, where visitors can spend 50 minutes snuggling some of the newest additions to the farm’s ever-growing herd of goats.
“It’s very therapeutic, it’s calming,” Wicker said. “Animals can sense your energy.”
According to UCLA Health, even just petting animals can promote the release of hormones like serotonin, prolactin and oxytocin, all of which can elevate moods. There’s even evidence that animals can benefit physical health, helping to lower blood pressure and control breathing.
ClearWind Farm, another local Chapel Hill site, uses their animals, namely their horses, to practice equine assisted psychotherapy. This practice is not about training to ride horses, rather, their team of equine specialists and therapists uses horse-centered activities to work through issues and feelings typically addressed in traditional therapy sessions.