DO you love animals and want to help people at the same time? Accompanying Orange’s court therapy dog might be the job for you.
Applications have opened for five volunteers as part of the Canine Court Companion Program, which will start at Orange Courthouse in March.
Guide Dogs NSW/ACT is working in partnership with the state government to provide therapy dogs for court users’ comfort and companionship.
Therapy dog co-ordinator Samantha O’Keeffe said volunteer handlers would work as a team with a dog to help provide support to potentially anxious or distressed people.
“We’re looking for volunteers who enjoy socialising with people, have a genuine love of dogs, good dog handling skills and an interest in animal assisted therapy,” she said.
Volunteers will be required to commit to two mornings per week for up to 12 months, have the capacity to attend information and training sessions and have the ability to safely transport a therapy dog, which will be a labrador.
It’s just amazing to see the mood of the room change just with having her in there.Guide Dogs NSW/ACT handler Samantha McGill
Ideally, volunteers can host a specially-selected therapy dog full-time in their home.
“This is a fantastic and unique opportunity to be involved in the Canine Court Companion Program and I encourage any interested community members to find out more or apply,” Ms O’Keeffe said.
“Guide Dogs NSW/ACT will provide ongoing training and support to all volunteer handlers.”
The program has been running at Manly Courthouse in Sydney since July.
Handler Samantha McGill, who has been working with dogs at Manly, brought two-year-old therapy dog Ollie to Orange Courthouse for a look around in November.
“It’s amazing, it’s wonderful to see how intuitive she is,” she said.
“We’ll walk into a safe room where there are quite a lot of stressed people and she will walk around the room and find someone who is clearly distressed and she’ll sit at their feet and she’ll get pats and it’s just amazing to see the mood of the room change just with having her in there.”
For more information on the program, or to apply to be a volunteer, visit www.guidedogs.com.au.
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