Wisbech youngsters spend half term holiday training dogs at RSPCA Block Fen Animal Centre

A GROUP of young people from Wisbech have spent their half term holiday helping to train shelter dogs at the RSPCA Block Fen Animal Centre.

Young people aged 11-18 were involved in the ‘Fresh Start: Paws and Pals’ initiative, which was run by the K9 Project in partnership with Wisbech Locality youth workers and the animal centre in Wimblington, March.

Senior volunteers - aged 15-17 - mentored younger members of the scheme during five days of training Staffordshire bull terriers and crossbreeds who were in need of a new home.

The youngsters visited a puppy socialisation class and did a range of classroom-based activities, including learning how to care for the dogs and interviewing RSPCA staff.

They also designed posters for the dogs’ kennels to demonstrate the strengths and personalities of each dog.

RSPCA Deputy Manager Kirstyn Gaunt, who led the dog training sessions, said: “The young people were fantastic and they made a real difference to the dogs behaviour. The dogs responded really well and learnt very quickly- hopefully it will make our task of getting the dogs adopted easier.”

The programme was funded by the Youth Opportunity Fund and the young people involved prepared the bid, developed the project idea and went before a panel who awarded them the funding.

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The senior volunteers had one day of training prior to half term where they were given advice about mentoring and did some work with dogs.

Alice Goose and Cheryl Chudleigh, youth workers, said: “We have seen the young people develop in a number of different ways.

“From being involved in the project several of the young people have expressed and obtained information about volunteering with animals and future careers in animal care.

“The senior members in their peer mentoring role supported and encouraged the young people enabling them to gain confidence and learn new skills.”

During evaluation of the project the young people highlighted that they had enjoyed a fun and informative week.

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