East Devon Eddie chatting to children at Honiton Primary School

Honiton Primary schoolchildren learn do’s and don’ts of responsible pet ownership

Responsible pet ownership is an important message that East Devon District Council’s Environmental Health team, supported by East Devon Eddie (the council’s canine mascot), is keen to convey across the district and what better way to start than by visiting schools to educate young pet carers of the future.

As part of a programme to introduce young people to the do’s and don’ts of owning and looking after a dog, East Devon Eddie has been sending out members of his team to talk to Primary schoolchildren in Year 2 and above.

The most recent Pet Carers of the Future presentation took place on Friday April 29 at Honiton Primary School in Honiton, where East Devon District Council Technical Officer Karen Arnett talked to 362 children about the following important topics to reinforce the message that owning or looking after a dog is a serious responsibility:

•         Feeding, exercise, grooming, worming

•         Dog waste and the importance of picking up after a dog

•         Keeping dogs under control in the countryside

•         Yellow Ribbon dog project (If you see a dog with a yellow ribbon, or scarf or bandana, it means give that dog space, do not approach it, do not let your dog run up to it)

•         Microchipping

•         Benefits of owning a dog

•         Doggy do’s and don’ts, such as respecting a dog’s possessions, treating dogs with consideration and always washing your hands after stroking a dog.

 Following the presentation, Karen answered questions put to her by the children and gave each of them a goody bag, containing a Daily Wag newsletter, East Devon Eddie’s top doggy do’s and don’ts, a pencil and a wrist band printed with the message ‘I’m a responsible dog owner’. 

Councillor Iain Chubb, East Devon District Council’s Portfolio holder for the Environment, said:

Responsible dog ownership and all the issues that comes with it, such as dog fouling, is something the council takes very seriously. Our Daily Wag newsletter, which is full of excellent information about dog ownership, can be downloaded free from our website.

There will always be dog owners who don’t abide by the bye-laws relating to dogs on leads, dog bans and fouling, but this is the case for any legal controls, and we strive collectively to do our best, working with the local community, to encourage as many dog owners as possible to be responsible. We have found over many years that the most successful approach is by providing education and information.

We try to get the responsible dog ownership message out to as many people as possible, and our council officers work very hard behind the scenes to keep East Devon’s beaches, towns and countryside, as clean as possible, as this discourages people from spoiling it.

Karen Arnett said:

There are so many benefits to owning a dog, for example, research has shown that children who practice reading to a dog become better at it and gain confidence. It’s also a wonderful way to encourage fitness and increased levels of activity in a fun and natural way. Caring for a dog teaches children about the responsibilities of life and mutual trust, which helps improve their relationships with other children, as well as their parents and teachers. We have already spoken to over 1,200 children in East Devon and by the end of May we will have involved over 2,000 children in The Pet Carers of the Future campaign. Feedback from children, parents and teachers has so far been immensely encouraging.

Honiton Primary School’s assistant headteacher, Julie Blanchford, said:

Honiton Primary School had a very special treat this afternoon when it was visited by East Devon District Council’s Pet Carers of the Future team. The children learned the five most important do’s and don’ts when being around or owning dogs to ensure safety and proper care. They also met Eddie the 8ft fluffy dog who delighted them with his friendly nature.