Course could save your pet’s life

St. John pet therapy program will be offering a course on what to do in the event of an emergency for your pet

Julie-Ann Miller demonstrates the proper bandaging technique on her dog Kshu at the St. John Ambulance office. A certified instructor

Julie-Ann Miller demonstrates the proper bandaging technique on her dog Kshu at the St. John Ambulance office. A certified instructor

Knowing what to do in a medical emergency can your pet’s life.

It’s for that reason the industry leaders in first aid training have put together a program for those wanting to learn the skills they can use to help should the need arise.

“It can be especially important if it is a real emergency and something needs to be done right away and it can certainly mean saving your pet’s life,” said Sandy Karr, the South Okanagan facilitator for the St. John pet therapy program, who has also taken the course. “We’ve had three sessions so far since last fall and part of what spurred us on was the fact veterinary care around here on weekends can be almost non-existent.”

She recalled one instance where she had to go to Kelowna with one of her own dogs for medical help.

“The bad thing is by the time you shuttle your dog there it can be too late,” said Karr. “I think everyone comes out of it (course) knowing a heck of a lot more then they did going in, which is especially important in all these situations you don’t like to think about happening.”

The course instructor is Julie-Ann Miller ,who was chosen because of her skill level in other areas of first aid and underwent a special certification process to train others in emergency pet care.

Those who work in the St. John therapy program in which they take their animals to various locations including seniors residences are required to take the course.

“You just learn everything like doggie first aid and what to do if your dog has a seizure, what to do if your dog breaks a leg and how to transport you dog if it is injured,” said the program facilitator. “It is also about looking after a situation like if your dog is bitten by a snake or poisoned and what you can do until you are able to get some sort of professional help in that golden hour they talk about.”

In the program, participants have the opportunity to do some hands-on training, often with one of the therapy dogs who “volunteers” to be the victim in a variety of different scenarios.

“This poor demo dog, if it doesn’t have its head all trussed up it’s got its leg in a splint but usually their tails are wagging and actually, they quite like the attention,” said Karr with a laugh.

A course scheduled for Sunday has been postponed but anyone interested in attending a future session, or for more information, can call 250-492-3377 or email penticton@bc.sja.ca.