Canada City inundated with potential cat and rabbit snugglers

23:31  10 january  2018
23:31  10 january  2018 Source:   Toronto Star

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Toronto Animal Services seeks volunteers to cuddle cats and rabbits in city shelters on a rolling basis.

But there's still a way to get some quality animal time. The city has ongoing volunteer opportunities for cat and rabbit cuddlers at three shelters, as advertised in a widely circulated, very specific posting this week.


Roxane Bruce cuddles Poh, one of the rabbits up for adoption, in Toronto.© Eduardo Lima Roxane Bruce cuddles Poh, one of the rabbits up for adoption, in Toronto.

In a city like Toronto, with square footage at a premium, it can be hard to squeeze a pet into a tiny apartment. But there’s still a way to get some quality animal time.

The city has ongoing volunteer opportunities for cat and rabbit cuddlers at three shelters, as advertised in a widely circulated, very specific posting this week.

Mayor John Tory tweeted Tuesday afternoon that, due to more than 900 responses, the city has more than enough volunteers for now.

In fact, there was such a large response that people are being placed on a waiting list, said Mary Lou Leiher, a program manager with Toronto Animal Services. They’re often looking for new volunteers, though, so animal lovers can check back soon.

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“It’s really to help us get the animals prepared for adoption,” she said of the program. “Basically it reduces their stress, which helps them to stay healthy.”

Toronto Animal Services also accepts volunteer dog-walkers, Leiher said. Volunteers fill out an application form and do a brief interview.

The cuddling pro-bono work is not quite a cat cafe, but the set-up has many of the same benefits and is free, added Leiher.

“It is really just like that; it’s a place where you can come into a social public space and spend time with animals.”

Although long-term volunteer Roxane Bruce has pets at home, she still enjoys the “animal fix” she gets from her current gig as a cuddler at the city’s east shelter in Scarborough.

“Especially the ones that are really shy or anxious, it really helps them to have some contact and someone to spend time with them,” Bruce said, adding the benefits go both ways.

“I always call it my therapy.”

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