Inspiring the pet owners of the future

Photo of Education Volunteer Kathryn Saunders and Labrador Smudge

Education is a key tool for making sure the nation’s pets are happy and healthy, and our trained volunteer team has delivered talks to over 300,000 school children. Education volunteer Kathryn Saunders tells us why she enjoys her role…

With a background in youth work and a love of pets, becoming a Blue Cross education volunteer was the perfect way for Kathryn Saunders to use her skills to promote animal welfare to young people.

Kathryn says: “I’ve been a youth worker for 30 years and I enjoy working with children.” 

Blue Cross has a network of trained volunteer education speakers around the country who talk to more than 50,000 young people every year about responsible pet ownership.

Kathryn adds: “Blue Cross provided full training for the role and my pet dog Smudge was also assessed as an education dog so he could come with me on some of the talks. 

“Our first one was at a holiday club for children aged between four and 11 and I really enjoyed it.

“I gained a lot of confidence from that first session and learned some valuable lessons, and I’ve found it both easy and fun since."

As well as visiting youngsters in classrooms, Kathryn has started giving RespectaBULL workshops, which deal with issues of ‘status’ dogs and animal welfare, and last year we held around 100 sessions.

Bull breeds, and staffies in particular, get a bad rap in the media, and this project aims to stimulate debate and discussion around the issues surrounding dog welfare, safety and the law.

Our education volunteers hold RespectaBULL workshops for young people aged between 11 to 25 years old at youth groups and for probationers and prisoners to help reduce reoffending.

For Kathryn, the feeling of using her skills and experience to give something back is a feeling that puts her on top of the world.

Kathryn says: “I love volunteering and Smudge does too – he’s a real show off in front of the kids.

“He loves the attention that he gets and he goes straight over to the children to say hello at the end. I’m glad that we were both able to give something back to Blue Cross.”

Could you become a Blue Cross education volunteer?

We’re searching for very special people to join our team who are young at heart and enjoy speaking with young people.

Tracy Genever, Education Development Manager, says: “Our wonderful volunteers make a huge difference and encourage respect for all animals by helping young people to understand the importance of responsible pet ownership.

“We need people from all around the UK to get involved and spread the word. We’re looking for people who are clearly spoken, are confident, and able to show empathy when talking to a variety of groups across a range of ages about the needs of pets and staying safe around them.”

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— Page last updated 01/09/2015