THEY say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks – but when it comes to teaching children how to behave safely around dogs, Jess the Border Collie is top of the class.
As the real-life mascot of Hull-based charity Pet Respect, the friendly eight-year-old is always the star of the show at educational sessions in schools.
Now, the trained therapy dog has even become the star of her own DVD – thanks to the support of Neil Hudgell Solicitors Trust – aimed specifically at children in nurseries and primary schools across Hull and the East Riding.
The new DVD focuses on simple messages of safe behaviour around dogs, highlighting how they may feel threatened when strangers approach, how they may look to protect their food and drink, or jump up at people who run towards them.
It also stresses that children should never stroke an unknown dog without asking their owner’s permission, and should never tease a dog or take things from them.
The final touches are now being made to the DVD, just weeks after a report revealed Hull to be one of the worst areas in the country for dog bites, with young children the majority of victims.
It also comes as statistics revealed the number of people convicted of animal cruelty in East Yorkshire has increased by almost 10 per cent.
Neil Hudgell Solicitors Trust provided just short of £1,000 for Pet Respect to buy the software and other materials needed to make the DVD.
The Trust supports small projects, groups and clubs across Yorkshire that are making a positive difference in their communities.
Just recently it was announced that the annual Trust fund has risen to £100,000, with grants of £2,500 now available to individual groups.
“You only need to look at the statistics on dog attacks and animal cruelty in our area to see the value in what Pet Respect are doing with this project, so we have been delighted to support it,” said Jo Hudgell, who chairs the Trust.
“As with most things in life, it comes down to engaging with people at a young age and educating them. The DVD is superb, produced specifically with young children in mind to communicate a serious message in a fun way. We have been delighted to play a small part in it.”
Marina Hartley, who founded the charity with Kim Hepple, says the group would be delighted to visit nurseries and primary schools with Jess to bring sessions to life and leave a lasting impression on the young children who watch the video.
“We are really happy with how the DVD has come together, and having Jess as the focal point, talking directly to the children, will certainly help to ensure young people engage and listen,” said Mrs Hartley
“We feel it is quite powerful for the children to hear the message from Jess herself, highlighting how she feels when strangers approach, and perhaps most importantly saying what not to do, as these are the things which can upset or frighten dogs and cause them to bite.”
Any schools or nurseries wishing to reserve a DVD, or a possible visit from the Pet Rescue team with Jess, should email firstname.lastname@example.org
Fifty are initially being made available free of charge, but should it prove in high demand, more copies will be made available at a cost of just £1 each.