support

Mt. Laurel Center Announces Family Fun Day

- August 28, 2016

Rosebud, a therapy chicken who lives in Haddon Twp., visited a Mt. Laurel rehab facility. Patients loved her. Celeste E. Whittaker

MOUNT LAUREL – Ella Nesbit considers herself a city girl.

She couldn’t believe she wasn’t afraid to pet the chicken strutting around the Mount Laurel Center for Rehabilitation and Healthcare on Wednesday morning.

After petting Rosebud, a certified therapy chicken, Nesbit’s eyes followed the hen all around the room.

At one point she called out, ‘’Come here baby; how’s my baby?”

“I grew up in the city, Wilmington, Delaware,” said the elderly Nesbit, sitting in a wheelchair at the facility. “That’s the first time in my life I ever came near a chicken or anything. I never thought I would ever do that. I loved it. She’s so calm and so soft. Sometimes you’re kind of standoffish because you’re scared. I’m going to call my daughter and tell her what I did. She’ll be happy for me.”

(Photo: Jose F. Moreno/Staff Photographer)

Rosebud, who was visiting a facility as a therapy chicken for the second time, weighs about four pounds and is a reddish-brown color. The 1-year-old sported a Halloween diaper and sat calmly as residents approached to pet her. Her presence helps to calm down patients, who may be going through various health issues.

Some held Rosebud as she calmly bawked, bawked, bawked a few times, comfortably soaking in the patients' attention.

Visiting the dining area, Rosebud prompted a few jokes.

Richard Gallagher joked, “Get on my plate, I like chicken and waffles,” and then said, “I wonder if she’ll cross the road.”

“She’s pretty cool,” he said. “I’ve never been this close to a chicken, except for being on a plate, KFC. It is calm. It must be trained. It seems nice and friendly.”

Rosebud is one of four chickens owned by Gwenne Baile, a longtime Haddon Township resident who is a “chicken advocate.” She’s the founder of a networking group called Camden County Chickens and has taken over 50 hours of chicken classes and is currently teaching one of her own.

Gwenne Baile poses for a portrait with Rosebud, her certified therapy chicken, at the Mount Laurel Center for Rehabilitation and Healthcare. Baile is a longtime Haddon Township resident and is a chicken advocate. (Photo: Jose F. Moreno/Staff Photographer)

“We have four chickens,” said Baile, who sported chicken earrings and an apron with a chicken on it. “We had two at the end of January and we got this one and another one the end of February. I worked five years to be able to change the law in my town so I would be able to have my chickens.”

To become certified, Baile took an eight-night "Chickens and You" webinar with about a dozen online classmates from around the country and Canada. The Therapy Chicken Training and Coaching class covers bird selection, handling and training fundamentals, public speaking and teaching and more. Graduates are awarded the Therapy Chicken Handler Certificate.

“Rosie’s always been the most mellow of my girls,” Baile said. “She could sit like this in my lap for an hour. She’s just very relaxed. When I knew I had a chicken like that, and I knew this class was available, it was kind of a no-brainer. She definitely has the mindset. She’s relaxed. She loves being petted. She loves being held. She’s doing wonderful at her new little job.”

Patient Alicia Gonzalez couldn’t believe it was a real chicken. She looked shocked to see Rosebud, then quickly wanted to hold her. She ran her hands over Rosie’s feathers – Baile said the average chicken has about 8,000 feathers -- and grinned widely at her newfound friend.

“Beautiful, lovely,” Gonzalez said of Rosebud. “I love animals, all of them. When I was at my house in Puerto Rico at night time when you go to sleep, they steal all of them.”

Baile said Rosebud – a red sex-link – usually lays at least one egg each morning. She and her sister Haddy still lay eggs, while the other two chickens Baile keeps no longer produce eggs.

Alicia Gonzalez and Gwenne Baile, right, pet Rosebud, a certified therapy chicken, at the Mount Laurel Center for Rehabilitation and Healthcare. Baile brought her hen in to visit with the patients, who enjoyed holding and petting her. (Photo: Jose F. Moreno/Staff Photographer)

Baile is trying to get the word out that Rosebud is available to come for a visit.

“Sometimes it’s a little hard to convince people, I think, that they’re not dirty barnyard animals and they’re not going to get sick,” Baile said. “It is a little different in nursing homes or rehab facilities. We do wipe their hands after. But really you don’t have any more issues from getting salmonella from healthy chickens than you do from petting dogs and cats.”

Patient Alicia Gonzalez couldn’t believe it was a real chicken. She looked shocked to see Rosebud, then quickly wanted to hold her. She ran her hands over Rosie’s feathers – Baile said the average chicken has about 8,000 feathers -- and grinned widely at her newfound friend.

“Beautiful, lovely,” Gonzalez said of Rosebud. “I love animals, all of them. When I was at my house in Puerto Rico at night time when you go to sleep, they steal all of them.”

Baile said Rosebud – a red sex-link – usually lays at least one egg each morning. She and her sister Haddy still lay eggs, while the other two chickens Baile keeps no longer produce eggs.

Baile is trying to get the word out that Rosebud is available to come for a visit.

“Sometimes it’s a little hard to convince people, I think, that they’re not dirty barnyard animals and they’re not going to get sick,” Baile said. “It is a little different in nursing homes or rehab facilities. We do wipe their hands after. But really you don’t have any more issues from getting salmonella from healthy chickens than you do from petting dogs and cats.”

Alicia Gonzalez and Gwenne Baile, right, pet Rosebud, a certified therapy chicken, at the Mount Laurel Center for Rehabilitation and Healthcare. Baile brought her hen in to visit with the patients, who enjoyed holding and petting her. (Photo: Jose F. Moreno/Staff Photographer)

Alicia Gonzalez and Gwenne Baile, right, pet Rosebud, a certified therapy chicken, at the Mount Laurel Center for Rehabilitation and Healthcare. Baile brought her hen in to visit with the patients, who enjoyed holding and petting her. (Photo: Jose F. Moreno/Staff Photographer)

More Press Releases