Related content: www.wollondillyadvertiser.com.au/story/3158410/lending-a-helping-paw
Paws Pet Therapy is expanding quickly and looking for volunteers with four-legged friends.
Paws Pet Therapy, established in 2012, is a charitable organisation that trains volunteers and their dogs to provide specialised pet therapy to people with special needs.
The Thirlmere-based charity is now offering its therapy services in Sydney, South Coast and Blue Mountains’ hospitals and aged-care facilities.
Paws Pet Therapy president Sharon Stewart said the organisation now needed to conduct training every six weeks and encouraged more volunteers to get involved.
“It is an exciting time for us. We are bigger and better than ever,” she said.
That is helped by the Picton and District Senior Citizens Association’s $1000 donation.
“The association was looking to donate money to a local charity. We gave a presentation and we took the dogs and they worked the room,” Ms Stewart said.
“We are thankful for their support and the money will help on a local level.”
The organisation will use the money to expand the therapy program and will go into training volunteers.
“We sometimes provide free one-on-one visits and the money will go towards continuing that free service,” Ms Stewart said.
The organisation also runs a literacy program, Paws’n’Tales.
It is a pet assisted reading program that has expanded into 20 libraries and schools including in Camden, Bowral and Shoalhaven.
The program trains volunteers and their dogs to help children with reading difficulties increase their literacy skills and confidence.
It will run at Picton Library once the refurbishments have been completed.
Ms Stewart encouraged more schools or libraries in the region to get involved.
“The program targets kids aged four to eight with literacy problems,” she said.
“The children’s confidence and self-esteem are boosted because they are reading to a nice, friendly dog who is not a teacher.”
The children who participated in the pilot program at Nowra Library increased their reading levels by two and they started to love reading.
“The program allows the child to be a teacher to the dog, they have more control and they take ownership of their reading,” Ms Stewart said.
“The kids are happier to pick up a book, they practice, and they want to read to the dog.
“Some kids tried out for a new sport or drama performance.”
Volunteers and their dogs are welcome to contact Ms Stewart for more information.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.