Staying safe around dogs: Mindarie Primary School

Gaye Pathmanathan, with Year 6 students Phoenix Symmonds, Josh Lee, Will Hodgson and Rhys Durning, spoke about staying safe around dogs.
Gaye Pathmanathan, with Year 6 students Phoenix Symmonds, Josh Lee, Will Hodgson and Rhys Durning, spoke about staying safe around dogs.

A DOG biting a student at a local park prompted Mindarie Primary School to host talks about safety around animals recently.

Year 6 teacher Megan Clark said guest speaker and Shenton Park Dogs Refuge volunteer Gaye Pathmanathan spoke to all classes over three sessions on October 16 about preventing dog bites and staying safe around dogs.

Miss Clark said she initiated the talks after student Josh Lee (11) was bitten by a friend’s dog at a local park after school one day last term.

Josh’s mother Kelly said the family had always had dogs and he knew how to approach animals and no-one was to blame for the August 10 incident.

“It was just unfortunate,” she said.

“I’ve always said to him ‘Ask permission’ (and) he did approach with caution.

“The dog may still have felt threatened.

“Josh went to pat the dog and it just jumped at his face.”

Mrs Lee said the normally friendly family dog was on a leash, so Josh’s injuries were minor, with the side of his nose cut by a canine tooth and scratches to his cheek.

“He was really lucky; it could have been a lot worse,” she said.

The Mindarie resident said Josh’s friends called her to the park after the bite, where there seemed to be a lot of blood, but she took him to the local GP and a doctor and nurse treated him quickly.

“He had to have his nose glued – they said if they stitched it, it would have scarred worse,” she said.

He also received a tetanus booster and antibiotics.

Josh said the bite was distressing and he had become more cautious around other people’s dogs as a result.

“It was a bit of a shock,” he said.

“I have to probably know the dog before I pat it now.”

Miss Pathmanathan said adults should always supervise interactions between dogs and children.

“We need to learn body language – the dogs speak to us through that,” she said.

“Sometimes dogs don’t want to be interacted with or patted.”

Mrs Lee said she welcomed the talks because children and dogs regularly crossed paths at local parks.

“It’s a very highly used oval for dog-walking,” she said.

Ms Pathmanathan volunteers to give talks at schools on Fridays.

Email gpath@outlook.com for more information.