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Montreal Families

SPCA hosts empathy-building workshops for kids

A series of workshops at the Montreal SPCA aims to change how kids relate to animals through hands-on exercises designed to build empathy and coach kids how to care for furry and feathered friends.

ANIMAtion Thursdays, presented by ENGAGE: Animal Welfare Education, a non-profit advocacy group, in partnership with the Montreal SPCA, is an activity for youths aged 8 and up. Kids will get to interact with the wide range of animals cared for by the SPCA, which not only takes in cats and dogs, but also occasionally chickens, ducks, and even pigs.

Children will participate in activities with animals in small groups adapted to the age of participants, learning how to properly care for pets while also improving the animals’ adoptability. “Petting isn’t always what animals need,” says Emelie Luciani, co-director of ENGAGE. For example, training dogs through positive reinforcement is beneficial for both the animal and its guardian.

The workshops also aim to improve the conditions for animals living in shelters. Lack of play time and interaction is not good for animals. “If you don’t keep them stimulated, their condition deteriorates,” says Colleen Ovenden, co-director of ENGAGE.

Shelters do not take volunteers under 18 years old, making this a great opportunity for younger animal-lovers to help animals while learning valuable skills. The number of animals in the shelter triples in the summer, which makes this activity particularly valuable to their wellbeing, Ovenden said.

The activity also counts towards six hours of community service for schools. The workshops are being held weekly at the Montreal SPCA, 5215 Jean Talon St. W., from June until August. The sessions are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and cost $100. Morning and afternoon care is also available from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. and from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m., for an additional $25 each.

For more information, visit engageanimal.org.

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