Therapets.docx - Therapets Society (Therapets) is a...

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Therapets Society (Therapets) is a registered charity with the Canada RevenueAgency. Therapets was founded in 2000 by veterinarians Sonja Kruse and ElijahThomlinson. Sonja and Elijah shared an interest in the use of therapy animalsfor a wide variety of roles, including hospital visits to children and elderlypatients, assistance for individuals with physical or cognitive disabilities, andcompanionship for the elderly. They strongly believed that individuals, and thecommunity as a whole, benefit when humans and animals can rely on oneanothers strengths. Therapets began with three board members —Sonja,Elijah, and Elijah’s wife, Laureen, who is a physiotherapist at a local medicalclinic.In the early years, Therapets managed to raise approximately $100,000 peryear from individual donors and corporate sponsors, and organized a programto have pet owners — primarily those with dogs and cats — provide volunteerhospital visits to children and elderly patients. The society also started itsForever Needed program, where therapy animal trainers visit dogs in sheltersto assess their ability to work as therapy dogs. Those dogs that showedpromise were adopted by Therapets and trained for service as generalcompanion animals for the elderly. These companion dogs did not need theintensive training of a full-service assistance dog because they were not reliedon for high-risk life assistance; they were only required to be obedient and ableto assist in basic ways such as fetching items on command and maintaining acalm presence. Sonja, Elijah, and Laureen were elated that the Forever Neededprogram could save dogs from shelters and give them a meaningful life as acompanion to someone in need. The bond formed between the dogs and theelderly recipients seemed more special because the recipients knew they hadsaved the animal that was there to help them.Since its inception, Therapets has grown to have a board of six directors, withan annual budget of about $2.5 million. The level of funding received annuallyfrom donors and sponsors varies significantly depending on the economy. Sonjahas become the executive director of Therapets and has given up herveterinary practice, but she maintains her licence to allow her to be the in-

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Term
Fall
Professor
Dr Naveed
Tags
Assistance dogs, Therapets

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