Ever thought about your own therapy pet? Everyone could benefit …

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Employ My Ability offers vocational training for young people with special educational needs and disabilities. Maddie Walters worked on her journalism with the aim of writing a column for us – Ed

This month Maddie is thinking about pets – therapy animals aren’t just for those with limiting conditions, we all feel better for with an animal

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Everyone, disabled or not, sometimes needs a bit of creature comfort – and it can often come in the form of a pet. In this month’s article I will be talking about pets and some local pet shelters and charities.
According to news articles and television ads, many pets are abandoned or surrendered to a shelter. Giving an abandoned pet a home is a great way to find your next pet! There are many local charities you can find online – but do call first, you may have to book an appointment to see pets available.
Cats and dogs are great pets to have if you are disabled. In some cases therapy dogs are really helpful for people; most people know about guide dogs for the blind and hearing dogs for the deaf, but there are an increasing number of therapy dogs trained to help owners with debilitating conditions like epilepsy, and equine therapy is being successfully used to treat mental health issues too (see ‘Horse, the mood altering drug’, The BV Apr 22).

Pet experience
If you can’t have a pet yourself, volunteering at your local shelter can help you get some experience looking after pets – and also some extra pet cuddles! At Thorngrove Garden Centre all of the Employ My Ability students and day services have welcomed the guinea pigs and rabbits and they are really enjoy looking after them! They have learned all about feeding, changing the straw, giving them water and making sure that they don’t run away or get lost. It is great practise for having a pet of their own, and enjoying some beneficial animal therapy
I recently read an article about robot cats and dogs, too! They have been very helpful in nursing homes and respite care homes for elderly people with dementia.

Local support
If you can’t take another pet yourself, you can still support a local animal charity, The Cats Protection Charity Shop is a great option (the nearest one is in the High Street, Gillingham).
There are many wonderful pets that need a home – maybe it’s the right time for you, and you can find your next pet at a local rescue? If you are thinking about providing a forever home for a rescue pet, try the following local rescues:

Stour Valley Dog Rescue – just dogs
Margaret Green Animal Rescue – all animals
Cat’s Protection mid-Dorset – just cats
Dog’s Trust – just dogs
Angel Rabbit Rescue – Rabbits and guinea pigs
Staffie & Stray Rescue – just dogs
Waggy Tails – just dogs
RSPCA Ashley Heath – cats and other small animals

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