Tangerine, an albino corn snake, just wants a little warmth. The cold-blooded creature wraps herself close to her handler and looks around, her tongue popping in and out. She hates the winter.
Tangerine might be getting more warmth soon as one of the 15 animal ambassadors of the Monroe County Humane Association that will be available for snuggles on Feb. 16, MCHA’s fourth annual Send a Snuggle day.
Rebecca Warren, executive director of MCHA, said the day is sometimes challenging but overall is the easiest event they put on.
“The day itself is a bit of a cluster because we have volunteers and animals all over town trying to park, get into banks and campus with goats and mini horses,” Warren said.
In honor of Random Acts of Kindness Day, anyone can pay $25 to send an animal to visit a person of their choosing. Feb. 14 is last day to order a snuggle on the MCHA website.
The variety of animals has grown over the years. The new additions this year are two rats who come in a pair and an adoptable kitten from the shelter. The rest of the list includes six different dogs, two miniature horses, two goats, a rabbit and, of course, Tangerine.
“It’s a new adventure for them so they’re all excited and also stressed at the same time,” said Karen Parson, a veterinary tech.
Parson, who works at the MCHA Nonprofit Veterinary Clinic and Outreach Center, said this will be her first year working Send a Snuggle. She has helped with other events and education outreach programs offered through MCHA before such as Yoga with Goats. Parson said she is looking forward to seeing people’s reactions to the spontaneity of the animals.
Warren, the organizer behind the event, came up with the idea four years ago when the humane association was in need of new, revenue-generating programs while becoming more involved in the community.
All the profits go to the MCHA annual fund that pays for all the programming and services they offer. Warren said MCHA completely relies on donations.
For the past two years, Warren paired herself with the Norwegian dwarf goat Annie for Send a Snuggle. This year, she will be with miniature horse Little Man, who is new to the program. Warren said when they visit a workplace, it’s not just one person who usually gets the snuggle.
“It becomes an entire facility response," Warren said. "I mean, we walk from office to office to other departments. Everyone’s taking pictures and getting down on the floor. At least three people cry. Send a Snuggle is the best day of the year to do my job.”
Tangerine, who has been on the list of choices in past years, has yet to be requested by snuggle-senders but that might change.
“No one ever sends the snake but they should," Warren said. "She’s very nice."
In past years, Warren said she has seen some snuggles sent as surprises, some with notifications beforehand and even some by people to themselves. In any case, the joy the animals bring is evident to Warren.
“People get so excited when they see the animal," Warren said. "I mean it just breaks up the monotony of what they were doing and totally puts a stop on the whole production of the day. It’s wonderful to be on the other end of the leash just to see people get so excited and emotional about it.”
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