KIDS who attend the SPCA's summer camp have a very important job to do.
They help make skittish shelter animals into adoptable pets.
"We have exercises the kids can do with animals like cats and rabbits," said Leiki Salumets, humane education coordinator at the West Vancouver SPCA. "They actually make them more adoptable and more social."
The SPCA day camp teaches kids ages seven-11 how to train and care for animals responsibly. The week-long day camps start July 3 and run until August 24. Teenagers ages 1417 can also volunteer as junior counsellors.
Salumets said kids can expect to spend about an hour a day with specially selected shelter animals. The campers use positive reinforcements, like food and play, to encourage the animals to do certain behaviours that will make them more appealing to people who are looking for a pet.
"If a family is thinking about getting a pet - then the kids can relay all the information they learn at camp to their parents and then try to figure out what would be a good fit for their family," said Salumets.
Campers who already have pets can learn more about animal care and training. Kids learn how to do clicker training, a gentle and effective system where animals learn to associate clicking sounds with good behaviour. Campers practise the clicker training on each other at camp, then bring the technique home to try on their own pets.The camps can be an introduction to a career working with animals, said Salumets, who was once a camper herself and later a junior counselor.
"Often kids think the only option is veterinarian," said Salumets. "They don't think of all the other options that are out there."
Salumets said she hopes the lessons the campers learn at the SPCA will stay with them for a long time.
"We want them to become ambassadors for animals, and we want to give them the tools to start thinking critically and start developing their compassion and empathy."