St John is inviting pet owners to register their interest in joining its pet therapy programme.

Volunteer Iris Keat says the programme is the first pet therapy in the central region, and they need more pets to take into rest homes, the hospital and schools.

"The children at Central Normal read to the pets in 15-minute sessions."

Iris continued, the more pets that register, the more places they can visit that will make a difference.

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There are already two Shetland ponies that are brought out in the summer to visit rest homes.

Those pet owners wanting to join the programme will be police checked and their pets will be assessed for suitability to be handled.

"Dogs must be obedient and quiet and able to be controlled," says iris.

Rabbits or animals that can be easily managed can be assessed for the programme.

Iris Keat can be contacted on 027 4622770.