Lily, Pit Bull Ambassador & Therapy Dog, teaches dog bite prevention
THE WOODLANDS, Texas -- For the past two months, Lily, the “Pit Bull Ambassador & Therapy Dog,” has been teaching the kids in the KinderReady Program at The Woodlands Children's Museum the importance of being safe around dogs. Twice a month, Lily participates in a 30-minute interactive presentation teaching children how to be safe around dogs, how to meet a dog, what to do around strange dogs (strays), and the importance of being a “good friend” to our canine pets (treating them with kindness and respect.)
The KinderReady Program at The Woodlands Children's Museum learns dog behavior body language.
Lily, is a rescued shelter dog and a proud resident of The Woodlands. She is a registered therapy dog through Pet Partners, and a certified Reading Education Assistance Dog through Intermountain Therapy Animals. Lily’s partnership with The Woodlands Children’s Museum began in February when she began teaching the “Safety Around Dogs” class to the museum’s KinderReady students twice a month.
Upon completion of the program, the kids receive a personalized certificate of completion from Lily, along with a sticker and coloring sheet of Lily, a coloring/activity book titled “Fido, Friend or Foe,” published by State Farm Insurance Company, which are generously donated by Dan Johnston’s State Farm Agency in Panther Creek,herself, and a certificate for a free slice of pizza donated by Russo’s NY Pizzeria – The Woodlands.
Last week was National Dog Bite Prevention Week, a program by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). The Woodlands Children’s Museum invited Lily to host a table and provide information to their patrons about preventing dog bites, so Lily was there sharing information, including the coloring books and stickers.
Lily provides the following tips to prevent dog bites:
- Do not assume that because you have a certain type/breed of dog, this isn’t something you have to worry about – any dog can bite.
- Do not leave children unattended – active supervision of children’s behavior and the dog’s physical cues/behavior is required.
- Treat animals with respect: don’t assume that your dog “doesn’t mind” certain behavior (eg: being ridden, climbed on, taking food from their bowls while eating, etc.) because it hasn’t reacted negatively.
- Teach kids how they should interact with dogs. This includes familiar & unfamiliar dogs, including strays.
- Learn to “read dog” and recognize fear and stress signals in your dog. Wide eyes/whale eye, tongue flicks, panting, etc. are indicators that your dog may in fact mind certain behavior and is merely tolerating it as best it can.
- Spay & neuter your pets
“Lily’s presentation was absolutely beneficial,” said Mary Phillips, the Community Relations Director for the Childrens’ Museum. “Showing the children and the mothers how to read a dog’s body language was very valuable.”
Children in the Museum’s KinderReady Program, ages 4 and 5, were receptive to Lily’s visual and interactive presentation intended to safeguard against dog bites.
According to the AVMA, “each year more than 4.5 million people in the U.S. are bitten by dogs, 359,223 are children between the ages of 1 – 14 years, and 37% are children between the ages of 5 – 9 years of age. 66% of dog bites among children, occur to the head and neck.”
A study by the National Canine Research Council on dog bites that spanned nine years (2000-2009), titled “Potentially Preventable Husbandry Factors Co-occur in Most Dog Bite-Related Fatalities,” published in December 2013 by The Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, revealed that breed was not a factor, in fact, in 80 percent of the cases, the breed of the dog(s) could not be reliably identified. The study revealed that in 80.5 percent of the cases, four or more controllable factors were present.
For more information about Lily’s therapy work and community service projects, or to schedule a presentation for a class or event on dog bite prevention and responsible pet ownership, visit Lily’s Facebook page at the link provided.