Pet first aid course teaches new tricks

Rodney Times - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - MATTHEW CATTIN

Mouth to mouth slob­bers is an oc­ca­sional re­al­ity of dog own­er­ship, but one day, it might just save the life of your pre­cious pooch.

PET First Aid & Train­ing is a New Zealand or­gan­i­sa­tion work­ing to get Kiwi pet own­ers bet­ter pre­pared for an­i­mal emer­gen­cies.

Teach­ing the ba­sics in CPR, shock, chok­ing, bro­ken bones, poi­sons and more, the course gives own­ers the skills they need to recog­nise and re­act to com­mon dan­gers and symp­toms.

Founder and di­rec­tor Joanna Clough, of Kumeu, says the course isn’t a sub­sti­tute for ve­teri­nary care, but the skills taught can be the dif­fer­ence in an emer­gency.

‘‘We’re teach­ing peo­ple to be the am­bu­lance of­fi­cer for their an­i­mal to get it to the vet,’’ she said. ‘‘It em­pow­ers peo­ple to be more con­fi­dent if things do go wrong.’’

The first course was held in June 2014, and was de­vel­oped when Clough no­ticed a gap which needed fill­ing.

Af­ter study­ing as a ve­teri­nary nurse, Clough went on to man­age a doggy day­care fa­cil­ity.

‘‘An in­ci­dent oc­curred one day when I wasn’t there which showed me how lit­tle the staff knew,’’ she said. ‘‘We started look­ing for a first aid course the staff could learn, but we couldn’t find any that were New Zealand fo­cused.’’

With the aid of vets Dr Kym Shrimp­ton and Dr Graeme Ashby, Clough and co-di­rec­tor Laura Purkis cre­ated a 61 page first aid man­ual.

Up­dated ev­ery year, it pro­vides up to date in­for­ma­tion on dan­gers, symp­toms and treat­ments.

Clough says the man­ual puts right some of the mis­in­for­ma­tion in cir­cu­la­tion, such as us­ing tooth­paste on dogs, and the dan­gers of some peanut but­ters.

Since its in­cep­tion, the course has grown from one ses­sion a month, to mul­ti­ple ses­sions in five ma­jor cen­tres through­out New Zealand.

In­struc­tors can now be found in North­land, Auck­land, cen­tral North Is­land, Nel­son and Queen­stown.

It has also proved pop­u­lar with trained ve­teri­nary nurses, Clough said.

‘‘We’ve been asked to train vet nurses in var­i­ous clin­ics. They have the abil­ity to do their job with such suc­cess, but they don’t get to do it with­out the equip­ment, so we have a group of vets who put their nurses through.’’

MATTHEW CATTIN/ STUFF

Ve­teri­nary nurse Linda Guirey talks the class through two per­son CPR.

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