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Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu Praises St. John Ambulance Canadian Therapy Dog Program

Attends International Meeting of the Order of St. John in Toronto

TORONTO, ONTARIO -- (Marketwired) -- 05/26/14 --

Editors Note: A photo for this release is available on the Canadian Press picture wire via Marketwired.

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu of South Africa today lauded the innovative Canadian Therapy Dog program, offered by St. John Ambulance, at the international meeting of the Order of St. John with fellow members of the Grand Council. The Archbishop is Prior (chief officer) of St. John in South Africa.

Archbishop Tutu was welcomed to Canada by Izak, a St. John Ambulance therapy dog.

Approximately 60 senior-level volunteers of the Order of St. John from North America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Australia and New Zealand are attending.

The Archbishop is learning more about the valuable contributions of about 350,000 St John global staff and volunteers, including various Canadian community service activities through St. John Ambulance, such as the national Therapy Dog Program.

"It is an honour to attend this international gathering and to share stories of compassion," said Archbishop Tutu. "No matter where you are in the world, people's lives are saved by first aid, and communities are strengthened by the many programs offered by St. John, such as their innovative and uniquely Canadian, Therapy Dog initiative."

"We are delighted to have Archbishop Tutu attend and participate in the international gathering of the Order of St. John in Toronto," said St. John Ambulance Chancellor Mairi Arthur. "The Archbishop and all the delegates who have travelled from around the world to attend the 2014 Grand Council Meetings, deserve to be applauded for their caring and devoted contributions to helping the people and communities they serve."

St. John Ambulance Therapy Dogs have been active in Canadian communities for over 20 years. Impacting lives daily, the program's participants visit those who are sick, lonely or who need companionship.

In 2013, Therapy Dog teams volunteered over 200,000 hours of their time visiting hospitals, retirement residences, care facilities, schools and universities. Started as a pilot program in June 1992 in Peterborough, ON, today nearly 3,000 dog teams across Canada reach thousands annually.

St. John Ambulance continues to save lives as a global leader in medical first response and first aid training. In Canada, St. John Ambulance issues more than 550,000 First Aid and CPR certificates annually. Proceeds from training and product sales fund community services such as the national Therapy Dog Program, showcased during the Grand Council meetings in Toronto.

ABOUT ST. JOHN AMBULANCE: St. John Ambulance is an international humanitarian organization and is a foundation of the Order of St. John. As Canada's standard for excellence in First Aid and CPR services, it offers innovative programs, ensuring Canadians receive the best quality training. Revenue generated from First Aid/CPR training supports St. John Ambulance's charitable work at in Canada and around the world.

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