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Sunday, 26 November 2017 12:30 am

Behind the scenes of the SPCA

Animals help youths at risk through tough times.

THE Wellington SPCA not only cares for animals, it also invests time in at risk youths, helping teach them empathy and make them better people.matthewmicthellARTICLE

Matthew Mitchell (RIGHT), Education Officer at the SPCA has experienced first-hand how showing an animal affection can positively impact on someone’s life.

The programme targets children who have been abused, helping them by letting them interact with something that is weaker than them.

“Studies show when children come from an abusive background, they are not going to have empathy building values, because they haven’t been taught the values of life,” says Mr Mitchell.

The SPCA team that deals with at risk youth go out to various  facilities and run programmes.

For example, Mr Mitchell and his team have taught children about the basic rights animals have, based on the Animal Rights Act of 1999.

Diagnostic testing is carried out with the children before and after a programme to see what impact it is having, allowing Mr Mitchell to see which areas need improving on.

He says that having children interact with animals also has a positive impact on domestic violence.

“We teach kids to self-parent, because nine times out of 10 their parents are not being parents. You’re always going to get the children who are challenging and the children who don’t connect as quickly but out success rate is really high,” he says.

The programme is funded by grants and fundraising at events including holiday programmes and birthday parties.

Mr Mitchell says the birthday parties have been so popular they’ve actually had to stop advertising them in order to catch up with the demand.

And according to Mr Mitchell the animals benefit as well.

“We use the education programme to socialise our animals and they get a really well rounded experience,” he says.

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Street Poll : What impact do pets have on your state of mind?

AN ANIMAL therapy programme being run by Wellington’s SPCA is being credited with not only saving the lives of the animals it cares for, but also helping to improve the mental health of humans.

The Newtown animal shelter offers an animal therapy programme which involves regular visits to retirement homes, hospitals, disabled people and at risk youth

The programme benefits the animals as well as the people involved.

Homeless animals are given a chance to socialise in everyday situations, and people using the programme report experiencing motivational, recreational and therapeutic benefits.

The Newswire team took the streets of Wellington to ask what impact pets had on people’s lives.

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Dawn (LEFT), 51, Petone. “We’ve got two cats, ones an old one, ones a young one. We love them and keep them inside at night.” Dawn has a partner who is disabled so for her pets are just amazing.voxpopSOPHIA

Sophia(RIGHT), 29, Wellington. “I don’t know where I’d be without pets. Pets can help you when you’re feeling down. They care for you when no one else does, they always show you affection and they never turn their back on you.” Sophia says that pets are almost better than having a friend.

Kevin, 35, Wellington. “I like dogs. I think they can comfort you when they know you’re sad.” He also says dogs could be stressful and annoying at times. The overall affect for Kevin is that animals are positive.voxpopDEVONvoxpopSOPHIE

Sophie, 20 (LEFT), Wellington. “I think pets bring a lot of enjoyment to the people around them.” Sophie says pets really lighten up her day.

Devon, 25 (RIGHT), Wellington. “I think pets are real good fun. They make a good environment in the home and have a positive impact on your state of mind.”

George, 24, Wellington. “They are really soothing to have around the home. George says he loved his cat and was sad when she passed away.

 

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Video: Is the new SPCA living up to expectations?

The Newswire team caught up with Mark Collyns, the Marketing and Fundraising Manager for the Wellington SPCA, to talk about the success of their move to their new location at the old Fever Hospital on Mt Victoria.

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Audio Slideshow: Adopting an animal.

The Newswire team caught up with Nicholas Taylor, the Animal Care and Adoptions Manager at the Wellington SPCA, he explains the process of adopting an animal.

Story contributors: Nicole Adamson, Joshua Price, Steven Read and Finn Rainger.

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