Be aware – stay safe
A Merseyside Police initiative to educate school children on how to stay safe around dogs has been given the backing of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Merseyside.
Jane Kennedy visited Liverpool College, where the scheme was started, to see for herself how dog handlers from the force are teaching youngsters how to behave around dogs.
Fred, the animatronic Golden Retriever, has visited schools across Merseyside with handler Constable Stuart Davidson to show pupils they should not approach dogs when they are sleeping or eating, should ask dog owners if they can stroke their pets and that dogs who appear to be smiling may actually be displaying aggression.
Pupils are then shown images of dogs and asked how they would respond in the same situations before being introduced to Fred.
Inspector Gareth Phelps, from the dogs and mounted section, said: “This initiative has proved a great success. The feedback we have had from the schools we have already visited has been overwhelming and we have been inundated with requests to go into more schools, so we are hopeful that we will continue to roll out the scheme across Merseyside.
“It is great to hear that pupils and parents have taken on board the advice we have been giving. Hopefully this proactive approach will mean a significant reduction in the number of children who become the victims of dog bites in Merseyside.”
Gail Gannon, headmistress of Pre-Prep at Liverpool College, said: “Our ethos is about developing the whole child. As a teacher my role is to keep children safe and educate them. It is vital children learn how to evaluate risk and keep themselves safe as they grow.
“As a mother I want to protect my child and give him the tools to recognise danger and know how to protect himself when I’m not there. As an animal lover I want children to learn about the dog’s view too.
“This isn’t about dangerous dogs – it’s about all dogs and learning how to behave around them so that no child has to suffer.”