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Help SPOT run

Tuesday, 15th January, 2008

A lack of volunteers has meant local children are missing out on a state-wide animal safety program that aims to reduce the incidence of dog bites.

The Safe Pets Out There (SPOT) program has been running for 12 months and has already reached 54,000 children from kindergarten to Year 2 in NSW schools.

While the program has been praised across the state there have been no locals willing to give up one morning a week to deliver SPOT at our schools.

SPOT Committee chairperson Dr Kersti Seksel said teaching children about safety, kindness, and pet care played an important part in reducing the incidence of children being bitten by dogs.

She also said that teaching children how to be kind to animals was the first step in teaching them to be kind to people.

"It is well-known there is a strong link between animal abuse, child abuse, and domestic violence - and SPOT may help to break the cycle," she said.

SPOT State Coordinator, Steph Brauer, said they had not been able to present the program in Broken Hill due to difficulties recruiting volunteers.

She said while there had been a lot of interest when the program started, it had been short-lived.

"We now have no volunteers for this area," she said.

"It'd be great if we could get someone."

Ms Brauer said being unable to deliver the program in the Far West was disappointing as it was designed to be run state-wide.

She said she thought the lack of interest was because the volunteers need to attend a weekend training session prior to presenting the program.

While the training sessions are held in Sydney, Ms Brauer said SPOT would cover the cost of transport and accommodation for volunteers to attend. Volunteers only need to have a free morning each week and are supported by regional and state coordinators.

The program has three modules.

The Dog Safety module aims to better educate children about safe and sensible behavior around dogs (both pets and strays) and reading a dog's body language to reduce the incidence of dog bites in children.

The Pet Care module is designed to give children an understanding of what pets need and how to keep them healthy.

The Kindness and Welfare module then teaches children about how to be a responsible, respectful and kind pet owner.

For more information on the program please visit www.spot.nsw.gov.au.

Anyone wishing to volunteer should contact Western NSW Regional Coordinator, Debra Coleman on 0407 195 970 or at debra.coleman@spot.nsw.gov.au.

SPOT was developed under the umbrella of the Australian Companion Animal Council by the Animal Welfare League NSW, the Australian Veterinary Association, Delta Society Australia and RSPCA NSW.

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