Starting in January, a new program to teach elementary school children how to treat dogs appropriately so both child and dog stay safe will be given in Asheville elementary schools. The schools scheduled for the first part of the kid to kid pet safety program are Avery Creek, Glenn Arden, Fletcher, and Glen Marlow.
The kid to kid pet safety program is the brainchild of Joey Beckham of BMW of Asheville, who with her longtime pal and sidekick Beemer, is a fixture at many area events raising money for pet non-profits. Recently, Beckham explained how the program came about. “We were doing our annual ‘XMAS is for Kids’ event here, where children are brought to have their picture taken with Beemer,” she said. “The kids just loved being with Beemer, but you could tell that at first some of them had to be shown how to approach her and pet her and so forth. So we thought, “wow, wouldn’t it be great if a lot of kids knew this?”
The idea for the kid to kid pet safety program began when Beckham decided to bring the information to the kids by using other kids, rather than by video or other traditional teaching methods. Twins Ruby and Christel Schober, often seen with Beemer at events or the BMW dealership, were the perfect choice. The twins are now 11 years of age, and they have been leading and loving on the big, friendly pit bull since they were five. Beckham decided to have Ruby and Christel lead Beemer into the classroom and demonstrate proper procedures. “This will get the kids’ attentions and give them a real hands-on experience,” she laughed. “We think kids will pay more attention to other kids and also feel ‘well if they do it, I can do it.'”
Many children may not know the basics of a dog’s nature. For instance, kids may not know that dogs meet and evaluate the world through their sense of smell. Because of this, the dog may be unsure of a stranger, and can also tell if that stranger is nervous. This affects how the dog may react. So the twins will share that they never go near a loose dog. Nor do they ever do anything with a dog, such as petting or going into its fenced area, without a parent or other grown-up present.
If the kids are with an adult and another person has a leashed dog that they want to approach, they ask first if they can meet the dog. They ask the dog owner about any interaction with the dog such as “Can I pet your dog?” or “Can I give your dog a treat?”
In addition to dog safety, basic care of a dog will be covered: keep it clean with no fleas, don’t let it run loose or stay tied up, and for the older kids, spay and neuter.
If you want your organization to have Ruby, Christel, Joey and Beemer come to share their knowledge with the kid to kid pet safety program, call Joey Beckham at 828-681-9902.