Canine Companions is a dog therapy course for youth with troubled backgrounds or neuro diversity or disability. This program presents a unique opportunity to leverage the therapeutic benefits of human-animal interactions. It is designed to promote emotional healing, develop social skills, and enhance psychological resilience.
Matt was a 23-year veteran of the NZ Police. After joining Police in 2000, he spent 6 years on the frontline including community policing. He joined the Armed Offenders’ Squad and spent 12 years as a Police dog handler qualifying 4 Police dogs. Matt subsequently joined Youth Aid in 2018 gaining valuable knowledge working with young people, partner agencies and also gaining extensive experience working in the Youth Court.
While serving as a Youth Aid officer in 2021, Matt partnered with Oranga Tamariki to propose a “circuit breaker” programme for at-risk youth in the Youth Justice process and those in care or protection services. He works alongside rangatahi in their own environments, using Lachie and Chip (the dogs) to break down barriers and build confidence with the youth. It’s all about replacing negative behaviours with positive experiences.
Matt’s program was awarded the Evidence Based Policing award. He qualified his work in the dog program with in-depth reporting and an extensive program evaluation.