Helping Ottawa Build a More Compassionate Community
The Humane Education program teaches children and youth about responsible pet ownership, dog bite prevention and the role of the OHS in our community. A two-member team of humane education volunteers deliver a one-hour, scripted presentation in French or English, which often includes an interaction with a companion animal. Volunteers are responsible for either giving the presentation (presenter) or facilitating a visit with a behaviourally assessed companion animal (handler).
One of our amazing humane education volunteers is Christine Thomson, who volunteers with her marvellous dog, Murphy. Christine and Murphy joined our Brightening Lives Animal Visits (BLAV) program in Feburary 2015, and started supporting our Humane Education program in July 2018. We asked Christine why she joined the Humane Education program, and here’s what she shared: “Murphy and I had been visiting seniors with the BLAV program for years and knowing how much he loves kids, I thought we would also love visiting schools. At first I was just a handler but I quickly realized how easy and fun presenting to kids is, especially when you get to bring your own dog!”
We also asked Christine why she continues to give her time to the program, and she replied, “There are many children in our community who haven’t been exposed to a lot of positive interaction with dogs. It’s important for kids to learn how to approach dogs and be around them safely. Murphy is a perfect dog to introduce to kids that are a bit nervous, he is calm and gentle and patient. It is so fun and rewarding for both me and Murphy! Also, the schedule is so flexible that you only have to commit when you’re available so even if you’re busy this is something you can do.”
Lastly, we asked her to share her favourite teaching moments: “Working with special/high needs classes. I have a son who has autism and have seen how his animals help calm him in stressful situations. I love seeing how other special needs children have the same reaction to Murphy.”
Last year, the humane education team reached 9,300 children/youth in the community through this important and rewarding program. We need more volunteers to help meet presentation demands. If you’re interested in positively impacting the lives of the next generation of pet owners, and want to make a difference like Christine and Murphy, visit our website and sign up today.