Dog Bite Prevention Program (2004-2005)
Trainee: Stephanie Flaherty (Pediatric Resident)
CHPT Site: Tahoe/Colonial Collaborative
Synopsis: Dr. Stephanie Flaherty created and taught a lesson for children on how to prevent dog bites and what to do in case of a dog attack.
Stephanie's idea for the project was spurred by the number of traumas due to dog attacks/bites that she saw in the pediatric emergency room during a month-long rotation there. Stephanie combined that experience with her recollection of the number of dog-owners perusing the local park at TCC and her love of dogs, and approached Tahoe/Colonial Collaborative staff about putting together information for children and parents on how to prevent dog bites.
After consulting numerous web-based resources, and taking into account her own experiences with children approaching her large Husky, Stephanie put together a lesson complete with the do's and don'ts of approaching a dog, and what to do (or not to do) in case of a dog attack.
In order to "test drive" the lesson, Stephanie worked with TCC staff to put together an afternoon presentation in the park across from the local Tahoe Elementary School. Stephanie enlisted the help of the school Crossing Guard, who had closer relationships with parents due to his day-to-day contact with them, and he helped encourage parents to stay for the afterschool presentation. Stephanie also approached dog owners strolling with their pets in the local park, explained her project and asked if they would come on the day of the presentation, with their dogs, so that children could practice their newly acquired techniques.
After all of Stephanie's hard work, she and the TCC staff and community members were disappointed that it rained on the day of the scheduled presentation. However, seven children along with two parents attended the workshop, and one community member came with her dog. Despite the less than overwhelming attendance, Stephanie and the TCC community were pleased that the children loved learning and interacting more strategically with the dogs.
In May 2005, Stephanie scheduled two more dog bite prevention lessons, this time getting permission from the Principal at Tahoe Elementary to do the presentation on the school grounds. She invited the START afterschool program in addition to those parents picking up their children. In all, sixty children attended the May 3, 2005 presentation at Tahoe Elementary School. Dr. Flaherty also took her presentation to the Colonial Park Mentoring Program, just a few blocks away. This grassroots, volunteer-run program has been in the TCC community for more than twenty years. Program founder Shirley Johnson welcomed Stephanie and her dog, Nanook, with open arms, and she delivered her talk to fourteen children and youth.
Keywords: animal safety