Cheltenham Animal Shelter wins £5,000 for buddy scheme for dogs and troubled children
TROUBLED youngsters are to continue to learn social skills by caring for dogs in Cheltenham.
The town's animal shelter has been awarded £5,000 to continue running its unique programme for 'at risk' children.
The shelter in Gardner's Lane will use the money for its Halt (Humans and Animals Learning Together) Project, which sees troubled children taking care of a dog for three weeks.
The cash came from Lloyds Banking Group Community Fund after a nationwide public vote on which charities should receive funding. Shelter fundraising manager Deborah Barron said: "We are thrilled about the money from Lloyds. It means we can allow more children to come on to the project, and not only change their lives but also the lives of the animals."
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Halt has been running at the shelter for seven years, and 25 children took part in the past year.
Miss Barron says the £5,000 will allow the shelter to halve the cost of its course from £375 to £187.50 per child, and offer some free placements.
She said: "The young people who come on the course often have been excluded from school or are at risk of expulsion, and we find that it really helps them."
Owen Lonergan, 13, formed such a bond with the dog he was paired with on the course that he has decided to adopt her.
The Winchcombe School pupil, from Cheltenham, fell in love with two-year-old American bulldog Betsy after spending three weeks caring for and training her.
Owen enrolled in the course following some difficulties at home, and his mum Helen says it has made a big difference to him.
Helen, 45, said: "Owen seems a bit more thoughtful since he did the course. He has developed a great bond with Betsy, and has trained her really well."
For more information on the shelter, go to gawa.org.uk.