Using dogs in schools and workplaces as part of animal assisted interventions is becoming more common in Canada.
The Vernon School District has provided a grant to several teachers to research the issue, including Special Education teacher Nicole Stewart who uses her 2 year old Cairn Terrier ‘Kona’ in classes at the Alternate School every day.
“She helps kids with decreasing their stress levels, their anxiety. She’s brought countless numbers of kids into our building. They’re typically kids that are in alternate programs because schools haven’t worked well for them. She’s also really motivating for academics. She helps kids with their literacy, their numeracy skills, their attention, their listening,” Stewart tells CJIB News.
Teacher Andrea Melnyk also uses a dog in the resource room at Vernon Secondary, her golden retriever ‘Honey.’
Stewart says the dogs have the support of the school district, but there is no regulatory framework for them.
“At this point, we don’t have any policies or standards in our school district, and that kind of leaves me as a dog handler, her (Kona), and the kids in no man’s land in terms of liability.”
The teachers are working with animal assisted therapist Eileen Bona to develop standards.
Bona is a registered psychologist, founder of Dreamcatcher, and a Animal Assisted Therapist from Ardrossan, Alberta.
She is currently the chair for the National Task Force on developing standards and certification for Animal Assisted Therapy in Canada.
Bona will be speaking about how dogs can be integrated into workplaces Thursday night at Vernon Secondary School in the theatre from 6 to 8:30 pm.
The cost per person is $35 with the money going to the project to develop standards for having more dogs in the school district.
For more info, please contact Michell Bennett 250-306-6607 or email@example.com