BARK help­ing to avoid more dog at­tacks

Matamata Chronicle - - Out & About - ABBY BROWN

A char­ity is do­ing what it can to avoid more dog at­tacks.

BARK NZ will be vis­it­ing Te Poi School soon.

New Zealand’s only reg­is­tered chil­dren’s char­ity, which was ded­i­cated to dog safety and an­i­mal as­sisted ed­u­ca­tion, runs a Dog­wise Kiwi Kids pro­gram to pro­vide hands-on tools and ex­pe­ri­ence to em­power chil­dren to keep them­selves dog safe, the direc­tor Heather Laan­broek said.

‘‘We be­lieve that most child dog bites are avoid­able and ed­u­ca­tion is the key to achiev­ing a re­duc­tion,’’ she said.

‘‘Our pro­grams are care­fully struc­tured to de­liver ageap­pro­pri­ate and au­di­ence spe­cific mes­sages us­ing an­i­mal-as­sisted ed­u­ca­tion.’’

She said they are de­signed to com­ple­ment the Te Whariki early learn­ing cur­ricu­lum and the Na­tional School Cur­ricu­lum’s learn­ing ob­jec­tives.

BARK NZ has a team of vol­un­teers who shared var­ied skills and ex­per­tise such as ed­u­ca­tors (ELC and Pri­mary teach­ers), coaches, men­tors, train­ers and busi­ness pro­fes­sion­als.

‘‘Our vol­un­teers are very pas­sion­ate about be­ing part of the so­lu­tion to­wards re­duc­ing one of New Zealand’s high­est causes of avoid­able in­juries against our chil­dren.’’

They also as­sist many fam­i­lies that deal with a de­bil­i­tat­ing fear of dogs which is called Cyno­pho­bia. ‘‘It is a very spe­cial thing to be able to give back some­body’s free­dom by pro­vid­ing them with knowl­edge and tools to have con­fi­dence in ev­ery­day sit­u­a­tions.’’

The three-year-old char­ity was 100 per cent vol­un­teer-run and self-funded.

It un­der­takes on av­er­age 7-10 vis­its per week and have so far reached more than 20,000 chil­dren through­out the North Is­land.

‘‘We have work­ing col­lab­o­ra­tions with many ed­u­ca­tional part­ners and are of­ten called upon as in­dus­try lead­ers to pro­vide in­for­ma­tion and in­sight re­gard­ing the na­tion’s child dog bite sta­tis­tics.

‘‘We are con­tin­u­ally grow­ing and are very proud to be able to do so much good with zero fund­ing.’’

The group would be vis­it­ing Te Poi School on July 6.

The school’s prin­ci­pal Linda Larsen said she was aware of the high num­ber of dog at­tacks, which was part of the rea­son she invited the group.

BARK direc­tor Heather Laan­broek be­lieves that most child dog bites are avoid­able and ed­u­ca­tion is the key to achiev­ing a re­duc­tion.

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