By Selena Mann
Cody looks like a typical yellow Labrador sitting in a cage Wednesday while inquisitive passersby at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair watch him curiously.
However, unlike other dogs, he has a job to do. He works for Toronto Animal Services alongside his two legged partner, Robert Dale Meerburg.
Cody’s job description includes helping teach children how to act around animals. He goes around to schools and events like the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair teaching kids how to avoid dog bites. This is Cody’s fourth year at the fair.
“Once the dog starts pulling away people keep going towards the dog, which poses a problem,” Meerburg said.
Meerburg is an education officer who works in safety education and special events while Cody helps him demonstrate how to behave around dogs, so that people do not get
attacked. As dog bites have been in the news over the past years, in particular, because of
Ontario’s pit bull ban , Meerburg shows kids how to approach dogs, and kids are allowed to practice petting them properly, with the assistance of Cody.
Meerburg gives advice to children such as: always ask before touching a dog, freeze when an unknown dog approaches, and if a dog attacks get in a fetal position. He also stresses that it is important to stay away from animals if you are unfamiliar with them.
Cody is also used to train the dog owners how to avoid attacks by their pets. Meerburg demonstrates various obedience techniques owners can use on dogs such as voice and hand commands.
“Cody was not always this good, it took me quite a time to raise him,” Meerburg said.
“I classify myself as a very responsible owner,” Meerburg said.
Meerburg adopted Cody in May, 2004 because a family could not take care of him anymore. A year later, Cody was involved with Animal Services of Toronto. He is actually owned by the City of Toronto; however, he lives with Meerburg.
“City of Toronto taxpayers pay a little tiny bit out of a dollar, like a penny goes to Toronto Animal Services,” said Annie, of Toronto Animal Services.
Toronto Animal Services deals with rabies prevention, lost pets, and pet adoption.