Therapy dog program expanding into Peace region

A therapy dog program is expanding into the Peace region to those in need of comfort and companionship in the community.
An older lady with white hair and glasses sitting in a chair with a small dog next to her wearing a St. John Ambulance Therapy Dog bandana around it's neck.
A St. John Ambulance Therapy Dog. (St. John Ambulance.)

FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — A therapy dog program is expanding into the Peace region to those in need of comfort and companionship in the community.

St. John Ambulance Therapy Dog Program is sending an evaluator to Fort St John at the end of March to assess potential handlers and their dogs in the region.

The program reaches out to Canadians daily to bring comfort, joy and companionship to those who are sick, lonely, or reside in long-term care facilities, hospitals, schools or libraries through the volunteer program.

Faye Anstey, a Kelowna-based evaluator, will be coming to Fort St. John to conduct an assessment on interested community members and their furry friends who are looking to become a part of the program.

The region will also be onboarding two new unit facilitators who live in Fort St. John and Dawson Creek to dedicate time to grow the program in the Peace.

Community members interested in the program have until March 21st to submit an application, and the evaluations will take place on March 28th and 29th.

Anstey is also looking to connect with local facilities interested in having a therapy dog visit them every week.

“Through petting, affection, and regular visitation, many people benefit both physically and emotionally from the unconditional love of a dog while also providing the volunteer with a unique and rewarding volunteer experience,” Anstey explained.

The program has over 3,500 volunteer dog teams providing over 275,000 hours of their time across the country, according to St. John’s Ambulance. 

In order for a resident and their dog to be a part of the program, there is a list of requirements, such as the handler being at least 18 years old and the dog being at least a year old.

St. John Ambulance does not train or provide therapy dogs, according to Anstey. The program evaluates a person and their dog based on abilities and behaviours to act as a therapy dog team. The training recommended is basic obedience training and good socialization.

For more information, visit St. John Ambulance’s website or email [email protected]

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