Sunday, April 29, 2012

Dog Bite Prevention in San Diego

By Kay Thompson BSN RN, CPEN, CPDT-KA



We hear the same story way too often at Rady Children’s Emergency Department here in San Diego. “Our dog has never bitten anyone. The kids and the dog play nicely together all the time. Then today, out of the blue, he bit him.” As we prepare for the plastic surgeon to arrive and repair these tiny faces, we often wonder, “Why do we see so many dog bites?” As a trauma nurse and a dog trainer, I decided a few years ago that I wanted to find out more about dog bites. My hunch was that people can prevent nearly all of them. I am now certain that this is the case. The way we can prevent dog bites is by educating the entire community.

In 2009, I was honored to be the recipient of a generous injury prevention grant from The San Diego Chapter of the Emergency Nurse’s Association. I didn’t know where to begin, but I knew I would need some help from experts in dog bite prevention. That is when I found Doggone Safe. Together, we have created a complete educational program. It is suited for providing dog bite prevention education to all ages. Products available include colorful brochures, postcards, and a poster that gives a quick lesson in dog body language and explains that “Dogs Don’t Bite Out of the Blue.” Click here to view and order these.

For the past three years, I have focused my energy on educating San Diego area nurses, doctors, and paramedics about dog bite prevention. I have had the opportunity to give my lecture entitled “Who Let the Dog Bite?” to audiences throughout Southern California. This year, I will have the opportunity to take this education nationwide. I will be presently during Dog Bite Prevention Week at CFED West, which is a national education conference for paramedics and firefighters. In September, I’m thrilled to be speaking at The Emergency Nurse’s Association National Conference here in San Diego.

Thank you Doggone Safe for your wonderful partnership! I’m very proud of the progress we have made and the strides we have taken to bring Dog Bite Prevention to the forefront of injury prevention.



Thursday, April 26, 2012

Dogs in the Classroom for Bite Prevention - Doggone Safe Says No!

When Teresa and I first started doing dog bite prevention presentations in classrooms more than 10 years ago we took our wonderful dogs Clipper and Blitz. Many of you may recognize them from the many photos of them that we use in our materials. These were both exceptionally stable and friendly dogs who loved kids. They enjoyed coming to the sessions, we enjoyed having them there and the kids loved to see them. So why did we stop taking them you might ask? There are various reasons, the most important being that we were focusing more and more on body language and less and less on "don't do this and don't do that around dogs". We found that even these exceptionally tolerant kid-loving dogs would show signs of stress after being greeted and petted by many children. If we stopped the petting because of the subtle signs from the dogs that they had enough for today, then the remaining kids would be upset. If we allowed the petting to continue, then we were contradicting the lesson we have just given, which is: Respect the dog and if he shows signs that he doesn't want to meet you, then you leave him alone. We were disrespecting our own wonderful dogs and setting a bad example for the kids! There are few if any dogs who will truly enjoy being greeted by a whole classroom of kids. The goal of bite prevention education we realized is to educate the kids in the most effective way possible, it was not a forum for us to show off our terrific dogs or have a fun outing with our dogs. After much experience doing classroom presentations with a and without dogs, we are absolutely convinced that the kids learn better without the dogs and the dogs are better off without the stress.

Licensed presenters for Doggone Safe sign an agreement stating that they will not take a live dog into a bite prevention session. We recommend that if presenters wish to include a live dog component that they do this separately from the Be a Tree session and that the dog be used for a demonstration (grooming, tricks, training, service work, etc) and not be the subject for petting by the children. We encourage presenters to take a stuffed dog if they wish to allow the children to practice dog-greeting skills.

Be a Tree presenters who do not sign the licence agreement may not use the Be a Tree logo and may not represent themselves as being part of Doggone Safe during presentations where they bring a dog (even if they are a member). They may use the Be a Tree materials as they see fit.

Here is a link with more information about the Doggone Safe no dogs in the classroom policy.

Here is an article with more detailed explanations, published in the Spring 2012 issue of the Pack Rat, newsletter of the Association of Professional Humane Educators (a terrific organization with lots of resources for humane educators)

Dogs in Bite Prevention Classes

The Be a Tree dog bite prevention program for school age children is a well-established, popular program. There are over 800 presenters worldwide and nearly 1 million children have attended a Be a Tree session over the nine years the program has been in operation. This program has the support of many veterinary and humane organizations and recognized experts in the field of dog behavior.

The creators of the Be a Tree program, Joan Orr and Teresa Lewin, do not recommend the use of live dogs in dog bite prevention teaching sessions. Licensed presenters of the program must agree not to take a live dog into a session as a condition of the license agreement with Doggone Safe, the administrator of the program. All the dog behavior experts consulted in the setting of this policy by Doggone Safe agreed that it is better to use a stuffed dog and not a live dog when teaching groups of children.

This article will explain why we came to this conclusion about the use of live dogs in bite prevention presentations.

The main focus of the Be a Tree program is on teaching children to read dog body language and to recognize the key signals that a dog sends when he is happy or anxious. We teach the children to look the dog over (even their own dog or a dog they know well) to see what the dog is indicating with his body language and to pet only happy dogs that want to meet or interact with them. Any dog that licks his chops, yawns, closes his mouth when they approach, shows a half moon of white in his eye or turns away from them does not want to meet or play with them right now. They should respect the dog’s wishes and leave him alone. They should interact only with dogs that are happy and who come to them for attention. The Be a Tree program focuses on creating empathy with the dog and respecting a dog’s feelings.

When we started doing dog bite prevention sessions in classrooms we used to take our dogs. These were highly trained and socialized service dogs - Newfoundlands and a German Shepherd. They were very happy to be petted by the first 25-30 children and after that they started yawning or licking their noses or trying to lie down facing away from the children. These were kid-loving dogs, but they did get to the point where they had had enough and were no longer happy and receptive to the children. They were simply tolerating the attention. Since we had just taught the children that a dog yawning or licking his chops or turning away does not want to be petted, it was contradictory to allow the petting to continue, even though the chance of these dogs actually being stressed enough to bite was negligible. Since most children wanted to meet the dogs, this caused a problem.  If we took our own advice and stopped the petting, then children would be disappointed. If we continued to allow the petting when the dogs were obviously not interested, then we were going against all that we had just taught. Some children even pointed out to us that the dog was yawning, so he doesn’t want any more petting right now.

At first we were able to elicit many stress signs from the dogs in order to demonstrate these for the children. Soon the dogs got so used to any classroom situation that they just went straight to sleep and we were left without any body language to demonstrate! This is when we got the idea to use the large format pictures that eventually became the basis of the Be a Tree program. With the photos we knew for sure that we could show the main body language signals that we wanted to teach.

We also found that many children are distracted by a live dog and they want to look at the dog and ask questions (how much does he eat? how much does he weigh?) that were not relevant to the topic of the presentation. Sometimes the dogs were feeling too friendly and would gradually wriggle and creep over towards the children while we weren’t watching, which caused great hilarity. One of my dogs was a real clown and he would roll over on his back with all his feet in the air in the middle of a presentation, just to make the children laugh.

At the end of the Be a Tree session we play a number of noisy games. These are much more fun when the presenter does not have to worry about what the dog is doing while boisterous activity is going on.

Another reason that Doggone Safe does not allow presenters operating under the Doggone Safe name to take live dogs into the classroom is that there is no way to evaluate the dogs or the handling skills of the presenter. Even certified service and therapy dogs handled by professional dog trainers and behaviorists will show signs of anxiety and stress when large groups of children are allowed to pet them and so it is better if the dogs are not subjected to this.

We have discussed this issue with many other experienced bite prevention educators and all agree that live dogs do not have a place in a bite prevention seminar. Delta Society Australia uses a stuffed dog as do others and we are working toward securing funding so that Doggone Safe can also have a stuffed dog with which the children can practice their skills. The children can practice their dog meeting skills with the stuffed dog and the presenter can use the stuffed dog to demonstrate what a friendly tail wag looks like.

The classroom is not the place for people to show off how nice their dog is, or how nice their breed is. Surrounding a dog with children sets the dog up to fail. If dogs are taken into the classroom as part of another presentation separate from Doggone Safe, we recommend that this be done as a demonstration only (grooming, tricks, obedience, service work etc) and that the children be allowed to watch but not to interact with the dog. This will avoid any chance of a dog reacting and hurting a child, will avoid stress to the dog and will avoid giving the children contradictory messages

Many schools do not allow live dogs due to allergies or children with fears of dogs. The no-dog policy of the Be a Tree program has made the program welcome in many places where it otherwise would not have been.

In summary, live dogs distract the children from the presentation, and the majority of dogs do not enjoy handling by large groups of children. Doggone Safe cannot evaluate the temperament and handling skills of all dogs and handlers that may want to be involved in the program. Even certified therapy dogs, service dogs, guide dogs and dogs that have passed the canine good citizen test are not evaluated for their ability to handle crowds of children or to be petted by many children. Service dogs or guide dogs required by presenters should be placed where they cause the least possible distraction and the children should be told that the dog is working and that they will not be able to pet him.

In our experience after doing many, many bite prevention presentations with and without live dogs, it is much better without the dogs. The children are not distracted by either their interest in or fear of the live dog, they learn consistent messages, they have just as much fun without a live dog present and the dogs are not put in a stressful situation where their innate love of children may be eroded over time.

Joan Bio
Joan Orr is the president and cofounder of Doggone Safe, a non-profit organization dedicated to dog bite prevention education. She is also the co-creator of the award-winning Doggone Crazy! board game, Be a Tree Teacher Kit, Clicker Puppy training DVD and the co-author of the book Getting Started – Clicker Training Your Rabbit. For more information, visit www.doggonesafe.com or www.doggonecrazy.ca.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

How to Teach Your Puppy Not to Bite - Part 6

Puppies are furry, friendly and programmed for learning. Now is the time to teach your puppy about the things that people, especially kids might do, that dogs do not naturally accept. Things like toddlers pulling his tail, people taking his toys, kids going near his food bowl or kids taking over his special sleeping area.

To prevent biting accidents later in life you can condition your puppy to tolerate and even enjoy any kind of handling. Give him hugs, pull gently on ears and tail, tug gently on his fur all over while at the same time feeding him goodies from your hand, or allowing him to chew on a yummy bone. Pairing with a treat can make even rough handling a positive experience. It is essential to use the goody in this type of conditioning – just doing strange things to the puppy will not necessarily teach him to tolerate this from others. When that toddler runs up and yanks on his tail, the dog is more likely to look at you as if to say “where’s my treat?”, rather than snapping at the annoyance. This touch desensitization should be done monthly throughout the dog’s life. Watch this video that illustrates the process. It is best for parents to start the process, but kids can take over once the puppy shows acceptance and enjoyment of the activity. Only adults should do this with adult dogs.


Dogs do not naturally share, but you can teach your puppy to give up his toys, bones, food and resting place by associating the approach of people with great things. When you first get your puppy, feed him at least some of his food by hand. If he shows any sign of being unhappy with you near his food bowl, then feed all of his food by hand for the first two weeks. This teaches the puppy that hands near his food is good. As he is eating from his bowl walk by and toss something really yummy near the bowl, so that the puppy leaves the bowl to get the treat. This teaches the puppy that it is OK to move away from his bowl when a person approaches. After a few meals, move to tossing treats into his bowl while he is eating and then to putting your hand into the bowl with the treat. This teaches the puppy that people approaching means good things. Do not take the bowl and away and give it back. This teaches the puppy that you are unreliable and he needs to protect his food or eat it really fast!

Practice exchanges with your puppy, where you get him interested in something of equal value to the toy or bone that he is playing with and you give him yours and take away his. Or give him a great treat in exchange for his toy and then give the toy back. Sit with him in his resting place and give him toys and treats. Make sure that every experience the puppy has with people approaching his things or special places come with a great reward and you will have a puppy that is happy to share and is less likely to become defensive later in life.

Read more about teaching your puppy to share

Read the rest of the articles in this series:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6

 

Bite Prevention Challenge Update

It is getting close to May and the International Dog Bite Prevention Challenge. So far we have 67 presenters who estimate they will educate 20,000 children during the the month of May! These presenters represent 9 countries, 7 Canadian Provinces and 24 US states. We want to say a huge thank you to all those who are planning to participate!

It looks like we are going to fall far short of our goal of educating 50,000 kids in May. There are more than 800 Be a Tree presenters and we would love to hear from more of you if you are planning to participate. There is still lots of time to get organized and book some sessions with your local school, library, girl or boy scout troupe, 4H club, church youth group or other community group!

Click here for information about the Challenge


Saturday, April 21, 2012

Fun at Edmonton Pet Expo

Thanks to Doggone Safe Canada West Co-ordinator Judi Dowson and her sister Sherri for representing Doggone Safe at the Edmonton Pet Expo last month. Judi had fun doing four Be a Tree presentations each of the two days of the Expo. Lots of kids and parents stopped by the booth to ask questions and pick up educational materials. We can't being to express how much we appreciate volunteers like Judi and Sherri helping out at community events and spreading our safety messages!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Parents - Get Involved! Educate Yourselves and Your Kids; Train Your Dogs; Keep Everyone Safe

Parents, you have taught your kids about common hazards and how to reduce risks from such things as sharp objects, traffic, the stove, electrical outlets, fire, deep water and strangers. Be sure to add dogs to the list so that kids are not learning by trial and error. If you have a dog in the family, it is important to train the dog to accept and enjoy the attentions of children and to teach the kids how to read dog body language and respect the dog. All dog owners should be teaching their dogs to be accepting of everything that life dishes out, but parents cannot count on this, any more than you can count on all drivers to act safely around kids, or all other parents to be as safely conscious with your kids as you are. Kids will be out in the world without you and they need to know how to keep themselves safe.

In order to keep your kids safe and to teach them what they need to know, you as a parent need to educate yourself. As a dog owner and a parent you need to be sure that the family dog is ready for life with kids.

Dog Bite Prevention Week is coming up in the 3rd week of May and to celebrate we want to let parents know about some excellent resources to help keep kids safe.

Family Paws Parent Education - Educational Webinars for Parents or Expectant Parents with a Dog in the Family


Here is information and links to watch two free webinars from certified dog behavior consultant Jennfier Shryock:

Welcome Home! Introducing New Baby and Dog Class: FREE! 

New parents often have anxiety about the initial introduction of their new baby and family dog. This is the perfect option for immediate help from your home when you need it. Take it before or just after baby arrives. Videos, handouts and live support are all included in this hour long webinar. Led by Jennifer Shryock, leading dog and baby expert, this class is packed with information to ease your mind and increase safety and enjoyment so that you can focus on the most important things … mom’s recovery, nursing, and bonding with your newborn. This class will be offered the 2nd Thursday of every month.



Postpartum and Family Dogs … Impulsive Re-homing Phase (IRP) Class: FREE! 


Overwhelmed new parents each year make a heart wrenching decision they often regret. Usually this peaks when baby is 2 – 6 months of age. This is Impulsive Rehoming Phase (IRP) or “Better Off” Phase. Mom may feel the dog would be “Better Off” with another family as she is too tired or unable to meet the needs. Other family members may feel mom would be “Better Off” with one less thing to take care of. These are the situations heard time and time again. There are many factors at play here and our goal is to offer ongoing support and solutions to help professionals and families work through this challenging time. I have found with simple steps and support, families can successfully work through this period with their companions remaining in their home.


Be sure to check out the additional webinars with essential information for parents available from Family Paws Parent Education. Click here for information and to register.

Basic Body Language Online Course


The Basic Body Language Online Course is on sale for $20 (regular price $30) until the end of May 2012. This course provides essential information for all dog owners and especially for parents with dogs in the family. Learn the basics of dog communication so that you can see for yourself what you dog enjoys and what he merely tolerates from the kids. Teach the kids to respect the dog, have empathy for the dog and recognize that dogs have feelings too. By learning to observe and recognize dog body language your kids will become excellent observers and will become more aware of the dog's moods and will realize that the dog is not always interested in play, affection or attention. They will learn to know when the dog is receptive to their attentions and when they should leave him alone.


Basic Body Language Online Course - $10 OFF!


This course will teach you to read dog body language and to understand how dogs communicate with their various body parts. You will learn how to look for clues in a dog's body postures and in the environment to help you decide whether a dog wants to interact or is best left alone. Happy dogs are easier to train, less likely to develop behaviour problems and less likely to bite. The information you gain from this course will be useful to anyone who owns a dog, works with dogs or encounters other people's dogs on the job or during leisure time. If you own or work with dogs, you will learn how to tell if some aspects of the dog's life are causing anxiety so that you can work to reduce these, resulting in a happier dog that is easier to train and live with.

"Recently I had the pleasure of reviewing the Basic Dog Body Language course, one of several excellent online courses that are a joint effort between Doggone Safe and Doggone Crazy! This is an amazingly thorough and useful course, whatever your existing knowledge might be. I highly recommend it because it emphasizes both safety and empathy for dogs." Judy Johns, Editor, The Latham Letter. Read the full review

Dogs and Storks DVD for Expectant Parents



Dog and Storks DVD - 50% OFF! 

Click HERE to purchase now! (use discount code doggone safe)


Get the answers and solutions you need to help decrease stress and increase your confidence and comfort once baby arrives.
Dogs&Storks™ is the trusted program for new and expecting families with dogs. Our Educational DVDs have supported families since 2002! Mother of four, certified dog behavior consultant, Jennifer Shryock offers practical tips and clearly explains how and why preparing before baby arrives helps everyone towards a smoother transition.


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Hound of Fur!


By Teresa Lewin

News story:  “…This beautiful dog was out for a leashed walk with her people, was approached by a man who bent down to pet her at the same time she looked up to say hello.  Now the man alleges the dog broke his nose.”

The incident progressed to the point in which a court case was pending. The case was considered as a bite, which is a criminal offence according to that town’s dangerous dog law.  The dog owner claims that the dog just lifted her head as the stranger bent to pet her on the head.  Either way, the result was injury. 

I noted the story with great interest.  My first initial reaction was: this is not fair.  That is not the Law, it is an abuse of the law.  At what point do people become responsible for their own actions?  Biased first reactions, as we all know in the animal industry, can be dangerous.  My first response could have been considered a ‘knee jerk reaction’ so I forced myself to breathe and evaluate this situation from a dog bite prevention specialist/educator's perspective. So here's what I come up with:

Dog guardians are completely responsible for their dog’s actions...Reality bites (pun intended).  The law is the law, therefore we all must try to stay within its boundaries.  However, in some cases By-laws may be outdated and not conducive to modern context.  This is usually the point where the alleged violator may seek justice before the courts.  A court appointed canine expert witness may be solicited for consult in these cases.  Tough job if you ask me. Dog bite prevention educators have an equally tough job at hand as objectivity is paramount when educating the public.  Without getting overly analytical about this particular story, and staying objective, we must remind ourselves that we do not have first-hand knowledge of the details that comprise this particular case.  We do not know if the dog was actually aggressive, because we were not present when the alleged situation occurred.  Remembering this information is KEY when giving an interview on the heels of an alleged dog attack.  If the media should become involved and want to interview you for your expert opinion, they could ask questions that may allude to opinions based upon the media’s perception of the case.  This is why it’s important to remain objective and steer the conversation towards an objective and general, education.   Too many opinions can lead to debate. As an expert dog bite prevention educator, you want to get your message out objectively with no possibility for debate, when you are confident it will work.  Hot debates will often over-ride the advice you give, and sadly the primary point may become lost in chaos of ensuing public opinions. 

Moving forward, let’s assume that the dog in this case is very friendly, however, a little socially awkward.   What can we do as dog bite prevention educators to prevent similar tragedy like the one in this story from happening in the first place? If we could recommend only one exercise to a dog guardian and one exercise to the dog loving public in a 2 minute interview what would we recommend to prevent a dog bite or injury to the public?  What information will the lay dog guardian and public likely adopt and accomplish from your advice? 

Public education:
·         Be a Tree if a dog should become too excited with your attention.
·         Be a Tree if the dog approaching you scares you.

We can take a bite out of the law by teaching our dog one exercise, condition to touch. 

Dog Guardians:
This exercise includes but not limited to:
·         Accepting attention from all people known to dog.
·         Accepting attention from people unknown to dog
·         Accepting attention from children known and unknown to the dog.
·         Learning to manage approaches from strangers and known people in all situations.
·         Accepting all forms of touch from known and unknown people and children under varied situations
·         Managing all forms of traffic, sounds, sights, and novel situations that may induce stress. 
·         Lastly, learn how to condition your dog to the world by visiting your Vet for a referral to a dog trainer in your area.

In doing this exercise we can make sure that situations like this terrible story do not happen to unsuspecting dog lovers, and ensure that dogs remain in their forever homes.

I coined a phrase and it goes like this: "we can't prepare the world for our dog, however we can prepare our dog for the world." Teresa Lewin.  In this case the world is the man who petted the dog and had his nose broken, and the dog that is conditioned for the world, is the dog who accepts attention from strangers without getting up or jumping up, or causing unintentional accident from occurring.  If our doggies are conditioned for the world, at the very least it can reduce risk in the big wide world where the environment is not controlled. I could expand on this thought but that could be a whole new story. 
 
Let’s assume for the purpose of this article that the dog in this story was a happy dog with too much energy and lacked the tools to meet and greet strangers properly.  Most of the behavioural issues dog trainers are faced with mirror cases like the one in this story.   All dogs should learn to meet and greet in a safe manner to reduce risk of hurting someone.  All dog guardians should always be aware of their dogs actions and be prepared for the unexpected.  There is a lot to be said about perception, intervention thus prevention. 

Sorry all, I'm just too passionate when it comes to dog and stranger safe interactions as it relates to dog bite prevention.

I hope I don’t start heated debate with this article, and it wouldn’t hurt to read it over a couple of times to get the context right.  I do hope that all our fans trust that my heart and passion are in the right place.  Education is everything.   

Cheers all, Teresa Lewin  co-founder Doggone Safe Inc., https://sites.google.com/site/workerprogram/

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Be a Tree Education in Liberia to Teach Empathy and Discourage Pet Eating

In post-war Liberia, Doggone Safe Co-ordinator Morris Darbo founder of the Liberia Animal Welfare and Conservation Society, continues to educate the children and adults in local communities despite the challenges posed by poverty, ignorance and lack of funds. In Liberia many people raise cats and dogs for food and kill them inhumanely. Morris and his LAWCS staff and volunteers visit schools and use the Be a Tree program to teach kids about how to be safe around dogs. During the Anti-Pet Eating Campaign they also used these materials to help teach empathy and encourage kids to be agents for change. Here is the the report form LAWCS on the results of the Anti-Pet Eating Campaign.

CAMPAIGN AGAINST PET EATING. 

ACTIVITY REPORT 

DURATION: February 6, 2012 to March 31, 2012



The Liberia Animal Welfare and Conservation Society (LAWCS) is a locally based animal welfare organization established in 2000 and legally registered with the government of Liberia in 2004. LAWCS renewed its legal status with the government of Liberia on January 3, 2012.

The overall aim of LAWCS is to contribute to the conservation of nature by promoting the well being of animals, humans and the environment, thus fostering the ideals of the animal welfare movement and conservation of nature in Liberia.

The vision of LAWCS is to create a society where the welfare of all forms of nature matter.

The campaign against pet eating was organized to discourage people from eating pets and encourage them to show their innate love, compassion and to have empathy for their pets.

Liberia is home to many thousands of companion animals. Animal Welfare in Liberia is an important issue though usually overshadowed by other issues deemed as having higher priority toward the development of post-war Liberia. Animal Welfare in Liberia is a major challenge since cruelty to animals is rampant. Sixty percent of households in Liberia raise pets. Forty five percent of these eat pets. The method of killing these pets is unethical and inhumane. Dogs and cats are killed through beating and strangling. These acts are very common in all parts of the country.

One major obstacle to animal welfare in Liberia is lack of awareness education to discourage people from eating pets and lack of supportive legislation.

With funds from Alice Morgan Wright/Edith Goode Trust and Best Friends Animal Society, USA, the Liberia Animal Welfare and Conservation Society was able to reach and inspire many Liberians with focus on the younger generation.

We believe that in order to end pet eating gradually in Liberia it must take root in the hearts and minds of the younger generation, with their participation in spreading the message to promote the welfare of pets in their families. This was the first time in Liberia that people were encouraged to love their pets and stop eating them as food.

The awareness will give people the courage to say “No” to cat and dog meat. Pet eating cannot be totally eradicated right away. But, we believe that encouraging people to say “No” to cat and dog meat is an important step that will influence people to develop the passion to show their empathy and innate love for their pets. 

Some of the achievements during the campaign 

  • We visited 15 schools and 9 communities.
  • We reached 2073 children and 1040 adults with the education program.
  • We held three days of a radio talk show in three of the seven districts in Lofa County.
  • We printed and distributed 2600 copies of literature on ``What wrong with eating pets``.
  • We organized an Animal Kindness Club in each of the 15 schools with 15 members each to spread and promote the message in their respective schools and communities.
  • We prepared, printed and distributed forms to all the 15 schools for students who believe that our campaign program was useful. Students who agreed to stop eating pets wrote their names on the form and signed it.
  • We received 806 signatures during our campaign from students who said that they will stop eating dog meat.

Summary:

Lofa County has seven districts, LAWCS reached three of the seven districts. Five schools were selected in each of the three districts. Town hall meetings were held in three communities in each of the three districts with the community people to educate them on the welfare of companion animals and encourage them to show their compassion, empathy and innate love for their pets. The message was also given to the public through the local radio stations, where people were allowed to call in and ask questions concerning the welfare of animals. The Animal Kindness Clubs were established in the schools among the children so that they can serve as agents of change and also inspire their friends to show innate love for animals. Questionnaires were used to ascertain the students’ perceptions about pets.


Challenges/Constraints: 
  • Inadequate funds to reach more communities and schools. 
  • Inadequate capacity in animal welfare/rights education. 
  • People’s perception about animals. 
  • Poverty and ignorance. 
  • Few or no animal welfare policies/laws.

Recommendations: 
  • The Liberia Animal Welfare and Conservation Society needs funding to reach more communities and schools with the campaign program so that the event can become a national issue. 
  • There is a need for international animal welfare training institutions/organizations to provide scholarships for LAWCS members to acquire skills in veterinary science, animal behavior etc. 
  • All those individuals/organizations that have animal welfare at heart and are willing to empower LAWCS to help the animals in Liberia can donate online at www.liberiaanimalwelfaresociety.org or can contact us at lawslofa001@yahoo.com for other means of donating to us. 

Appreciation: 

We want to extend our thanks and appreciation to Alice Morgan Wright/Edith Goode Trust and Best Friends Animal Society for their support toward the implementation of our campaign against pet eating. It would have been possible for the implementation of the project without their support. In particular, we want to thank Joan Orr of Doggone Safe Canada, Donna Pease of Humane Society International and for recognizing and supporting the work of the Liberia Animal Welfare and Conservation Society. 

We would also like to thank all those who worked with LAWCS to implement the activity. 

How You Can Help:

Donate online at www.liberiaanimalwelfaresociety.org or can contact Morris Darbo at lawslofa001@yahoo.com for other means of donating.