Deputy Prime Minister, Bill English answered for Minister for Social Development Minister, Paula Bennett, in the house yesterday. Asked what savings she had made in her portfolio, he answered;
Hon BILL ENGLISH: I can inform the member that the Minister recently visited a programme set up under the last Government where children were taken out of school for 6 hours a week to pat dogs in the animal shelter, providing animal therapy—whether to the children or the dogs, I am not sure. The parents and the children involved were as mystified about the outcomes of that Government-funded programme as the Minister was. I can assure hard-working New Zealanders that under a National Government such spending will not continue.
That's a cheap shot. Within the context of having the government run our lives, which we seem to be stuck with in the meantime, there are some children who can benefit from spending time with animals in order to develop empathy. Sure it's not ideal that the need even exists but there's plenty of other MSD expenditure that should be well up the chopping list. The kind of expenditure that creates disaffected, neglected, unloved, angry children in the first place.
The photograph is of a boy from the Epuni Care and Protection Centre Residence;
Each fortnight, Sputnik and other children from the centre get to train and feed an SPCA puppy. Trainers sit with the children, many of whom are victims of abuse, to teach them how to handle the puppies.
Epuni manager Ross Barber says: “Developing empathy is natural, but exposure to violence interrupts this process. Contact with safe, loving others can begin to redress this harm.”
I am a great believer in the power of animals to positively influence lives.
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