Man’s best friends could once again be spending their days providing a little help and happiness to Cariboo children and seniors.
Therapy and Reading Assistance Pets (TARAPS) is itching to get back into assisted living homes and schools in Quesnel as B.C. lifts more COVID-19 restrictions.
Until then you’ll be able to find the local volunteer group attending the Quesnel Farmers’ Market every third Saturday of the month, selling cupcakes, pet toys and treats as well as raising awareness.
“Our aim is not solely to raise money,” said TARAPS president Meriel Wild.
“We’re also keen to get more profile in the community because a lot of people haven’t heard about us, so it’s really equally important that we get out there, get ourselves seen and get more people that have some time volunteering with us. Then we can get going.”
Saturday, June 19 was the first market attended by TARAPS volunteers and sisters Val and Leslie Trombley who were able to keep shaded under a tent recently funded by the Quesnel Community Foundation.
Before the novel coronavirus outbreak was declared a global pandemic resulting in province-wide restrictions, dogs in the program would greet residents of Dunrovin Park Lodge and Maeford Place.
They would also visit several Quesnel schools where children would teach the dogs how to read.
“Everything kind of ground to a halt,” Wild said of COVID-19 limiting visitors from attending long-term care homes and preventing TARAPS from falling through to expand to Redwood Residences.
Most volunteers are also retired and did not feel comfortable dropping into the schools — something Wild said she believes School District 28 would have also felt.
“As soon as Dr. Bonnie Henry opens up the visiting then we’ll be in there because the people really missed it,” she added. ”The dogs missed it too.”
Anyone interested in joining TARAPS can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit them on Facebook.
Dogs must be older than 12 months, be friendly and have up-to-date vaccinations to participate. Due to restrictions by Northern Health dogs also cannot be fed a raw diet.