Pets can relieve stress

Stress is a continuous factor as finals week approaches. On Dec. 12, the exams will begin, the projects will be handed in and presentations will be on exhibition.

As this week approaches, there are many things that students can do to maintain a balance throughout this stressful time, like working out or sleeping. But according to, taking 15-20 minutes to do something fun can restore your productivity. says that pets relieve college stress and “help get students through difficult times.”

Western Hills Human Society is a no-kill animal shelter in Spearfish that takes in a variety of animals’from cats and dogs to guinea pigs and rabbits’and is always welcoming volunteers. A list including chores, cleaning and playing with the animals benefits the student, the shelter and the animals too.

“When people work with the animals, it helps them warm up to others,” said Shar Bergum, the manager of WHHS.

Seth Courtney, a hall director in Wenona Cook, recently adopted a dog from WHHS after visiting and volunteering at the facility.

“Volunteering as a student could be a great way to still experience having pets, while you are unable to have a pet in your residence hall or apartment,” said Courtney.

A wild cat was found in a garage by a community member and brought to the shelter. At first, he was very skittish and was not welcoming to human interaction; but a volunteer came out regularly to help. He played with the animal and began to gain the cat’s trust. “Now,” Bergum says, “he is warming up to visitors”.

“Exercise, affection and potential learning experiences and training are all benefits animals could gain from volunteers,” said Courtney.

Janie Borkowski, a senior psychology major at Black Hills State University goes out to the center about once or twice a month.

“I love it there,” said Borkowski. “It helps me get off campus when I’m stressed.”

As a resident assistant in Humbert Hall, she uses the Humane Society as one of her service programs that residents can get involved ina��one of the most successful programs of the hall.

“The residents love spending time with the animals,” said Borkowski. “I can really get them involved when we get there.”

With four fulltime staff members, the Western Hills Humane Society averages about 600 adoptions each year. The staff members work everyday to take care of the animals’which need feeding, cleaning, walking and care.

Another way to help this shelter can be through student internships. Whether it is a design student, business, photo or communication studenta��the shelter tailors the position for the person. This is a form of volunteering, but it can benefit the student with credit hours in addition to stress management.

The Western Hills Humane society is open everyday, except Wednesdays and Sundays, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Stop by and see what you can do for them — it could help you, too.