The men and women who came together to give his dog, Jack, a new lease on life left a very powerful impression on Aiden Liggett.
The Aurora student, who is poised to complete Grade 12 this spring at Country Day School, will be leaving this fall for the University of Guelph to study veterinary sciences.
It is a career he has considered since those early days with Jack, and an aspiration that has only been bolstered through his volunteer work at King Township’s Dog Tales Animal Sanctuary.
Earlier this month, Aiden collaborated with the people at Dog Tales who showed him the ropes, preparing an educational video to raise awareness of various forms of animal abuse the sanctuary has seen come through their doors, and subsequently presented to the Country Day School (CDS) community as part of his World Cultures assignment.
“I have aspirations to go on to be a veterinarian, so I was looking for opportunities to get as many experiences handling animals before hand,” Aiden explains. “Dog Tales is owned by a family that goes to our school, so I got in touch with them and I was fortunate enough to get a volunteer position at the shelter.”
The pandemic, unfortunately, cut short his volunteer opportunities but it didn’t lessen his ties to Dog Tales.
As part of his social action project at CDS, Aiden knew just what subject to tackle: raising awareness of animal abuse.
“Dog Tales has so many amazing stories of working with the animals themselves, so many great first-hand experiences both with the rehabilitation of the animals and the medical side,” he says. “I asked them to share some of their stories about animal abuse for people who didn’t know much about how organizations like Dog Tales operates. Once I had the video ready, I showed it to my teachers and a couple of my peers and got some fantastic feedback. It was a really heartwarming video to watch and very informative as well, which is what I wanted and I was so happy with it.
“I think people have different interpretation [of what animal abuse is] with obesity and underfeeding as simple forms of abuse. Some people might see this and think, ‘It’s not my animal, I don’t want to get involved,’ but these are very simple things that have simple solutions to improve an animal’s life greatly. It doesn’t always have to be the physical or really terrible forms of abuse to help care for animals. Vets often act as this frontline of finding and stopping animal abuse because animals come from a lot of different homes and they can find these signs of abuse, even slight things.”
It is, perhaps, a role that many people don’t ordinarily associate with veterinarians but Aiden is aiming towards his chosen field with eyes wide open, as he has since he was a young boy.
“When I saw the animal hospital [with Jack] and talked to the doctors, I saw the amazing scope of the hospital and their whole operations,” he says. “I took an interest in caring for animals almost immediately and that is why I first fell in love with Guelph and the idea of taking care of animals.”
As he looks for further experiences to put in his hours, he is hoping he will be able to stay involved with Dog Tales as well once pandemic restrictions are lifted.
“Not only would I get experience just handling animals, I could even get some in-clinic experience as well, which would be off-the-charts fantastic,” he says. “I couldn’t ask for more.”
Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran