Wildheart Animal Sanctuary animals get to know the locals – the 4 legged kind that is!

Here at the Wildheart Animal Sanctuary we have been working with Ability Dogs 4 Young People to trial ability dogs in the sanctuary so that we would ultimately be able to open up the sanctuary to Island residents and visitors who use assistance dogs when out and about.

The trial, which started in March, aims to habituate the sanctuary’s animals to the presence of ability dogs, so they are comfortable seeing them around and understand that they pose no threat.  If successful, this will enable a whole new Island audience to be able to come in and connect with the animals whilst enjoying the sanctuary’s peaceful surroundings.

Early signs are good and the interactions between the wild animals and the Ability Dogs has been one of curiosity, with the primates in particular taking an interest in their new-found friends.

Animal manager, Marc Fox, said: “The sanctuary aims to be as inclusive as possible and this is the next logical step in our drive to enable everyone access to enjoy our animals. Of course, the welfare of the animals on both sides is our main priority and we are making sure we do everything gradually to ensure this is safeguarded, but initial signs are good and we are really excited to be working with Ability Dogs 4 Young People to try and open up our sanctuary to a wider audience.”

Carol Court, Ability Dogs 4 Young People’s CEO, said, “We are delighted to be working with the Wildheart Animal Sanctuary to facilitate access for people with their assistance dogs.  Between us we are looking to provide guidance about where the dogs can go to maintain safe distances for well-being on both sides – so no ‘nose to nose’ interactions!  We are looking forward to supporting our young recipients with their Ability Dogs when they visit the sanctuary for the first time.  Then we would like to work with other animal collections on the Island and hopefully write a guide to help disabled visitors to go places with informed confidence.”

Two disability dogs with their trainers looking into the lemur habitat
Ability dogs making friends with the sanctuary’s black and white ruffed lemurs