O Working With Animals
Working With Animals O
I would recommend joining a team on a visit, such as a visit to a care home, so you can see what the programme is like first-hand. Also, you must prepare your dog - they must be well socialised and used to loud noises. the day, and I limit the sessions to five minutes per child so that the time is not too challenging for anyone involved. I find the experience very rewarding, but you must always remember the limitations of your dog. and the results were fantastic - everyone loved reading to Scotts! Parents and teachers reported that kids who had never had any interest in books were now reading at home. We travelled all over the UK and achieved great results in schools in Kent, Northamptonshire and Hampshire. Danny is now my READ dog as Scotts sadly died in 2010. Danny was honoured for his work by the International Federation of Animal Welfare (IFAW) when he won the 2011 Amazing Animal Award. He received this in a ceremony held at the House of Lords, hosted by Baroness Gale, and the award was presented by Brian May of Queen. He is also the subject of my new book, Danny Goes to London, published by MX Publishing. You can find out more about READ on the Kennel Club’s website at
Barking, reading, helping
Tony Nevett and his greyhound Danny are part of the Reading Education Assistance Dogs (READ) programme run by the Kennel Club’s Bark & Read Foundation, which helps children grow more confident with reading by having them read to specially trained support dogs. PetFocus chatted to Tony about his life working with animals...
Do you work with any other type of animals?
What do you enjoy most about your job?
What would you advise someone interested in working in your role?
No, just dogs. How demanding is your job? Does it involve early starts? Is it physically demanding? Is it mentally challenging?
Just seeing the smiles on the children’s faces and receiving positive feedback make it worthwhile. If just one child starts to love dogs and books because of you and your dogs, it has all been worth it.
The job is as demanding as you make it. For instance, an hourlong visit to a school once a week is sufficient, but not every person has the same amount of spare time. I usually go into a school about an hour or so after classes have begun for
What are the most common problems/ challenges you encounter?
Get experience, spend time getting to know your dog better and remember to prepare both yourself and your dog for the role. Speaking to people and joining a support dog charity is also a good idea.
Is there anything else you wish to add?
Schools were very sceptical at first and there was a reluctance to have a dog in the classroom with the children, but we tried it out at a few local schools
We first started the scheme in Kent schools, but then I decided to challenge myself more and started to work with children with special needs.
What is your occupation and for how long have you been doing it?
My main job is as a Governor for the NHS, where I work closely with children who have mental health issues such as ADHD or Autism. I also run the Reading Education Assistance Dogs (READ) programme in the UK, which is part of the Kennel Club Charitable Trust’s Bark & Read Foundation. For this, I go into schools with my greyhound Danny to help children read.
school minibus picks us both up from the station. When we get to the school, we wait for assembly to end and then we start our sessions. We stop for lunch with the rest of the class and Danny gets his own school dinner. We normally head back home at around 2pm.
Animals based in Salt Lake City, Utah. They had a scheme called Reading Education Assistance Dogs (READ) and I thought this was a great way to get kids interested in reading. Dogs are non-judgmental and do not criticise, which helps to build self-esteem, and the READ programme had already seen great results because of this. I decided to get myself and my first Greyhound Scotts involved, so I contacted READ and decided to go for it. Scotts became the first READ dog in the United Kingdom.
to be assessed and have a good temperament, and you will find a diploma in Animal Assisted Therapy/Activities like mine helpful.
Are there any other skills that are essential for doing this job?
When did you first become interested in working with animals?
What does your job involve from day-to-day?
A typical day working for READ starts with Danny having his breakfast, then a long walk. We generally catch the train at around 9.00am and the
About six years ago, I was reading an article about Animal Assisted Therapy in the USA. It sounded like a brilliant idea and I thought I could use the human/animal bond to help children. After extensive research, I found out where I could get a diploma in Animal Assisted Therapy/ Activities. I then did some more research about the scheme in the USA and found a group called Intermountain Therapy
What qualifications/ training do you need to work in your role?
You will need good knowledge and awareness to work with dogs and children, and you will also need to be prepared for any events that may present themselves. It is vital that you know your dog and its limitations. Being a good communicator and having patience is also useful.
To become a part of a scheme like READ, you must have your dog registered with a therapy group such as Pets As Therapy. Your dog will have
What is the best way to gain experience in this area of work?
Spend time with animals, join one of the programmes and speak to people in similar roles.