Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Schoolkids Given Lecture on How to Avoid Attacks by Strange Dogs

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Schoolkids Given Lecture on How to Avoid Attacks by Strange Dogs

Article excerpt

Henry Gare of Mandarin said his wife, Karen, has been petrified

of dogs ever since one bit her when she was a small child.

"She won't get out of the car if she sees a Chihuahua," Gare

said.

Gare, a personal injury lawyer, isn't a stranger to dog

attacks. Last year he handled six cases in Jacksonville,

including that of a 4-year-old girl whose face was bitten by a

German shepherd.

"That was the last straw," Gare said. "I thought why not do

something about it?"

When Gare found out that 6,000 dog bites are reported yearly in

Jacksonville, he launched a campaign to teach people how to

avoid dog attacks.

He and Jacksonville pediatrician Jim Waler have founded

Professionals Preventing Dog Bites, a group of doctors and

lawyers dedicated to preventing dog attacks.

On Wednesday, Gare addressed a group of 25 pre-kindergarten and

kindergarten special education students at Mandarin Oaks

Elementary School.

"These kids need this more than most. So many of them would

immediately want to run to a dog. The earlier we train them the

better," said special education teacher Deborah McLaughlin.

In a 20-minute lecture, Gare taught students that if faced with

a dog, they should avoid eye contact but never turn their backs

on it. Also, they should keep still, either standing up or lying

down with their balled-up fists tucked under their chins.

Running away is not the answer because dogs like to chase, Gare

said. Children were told never to pet a strange dog, especially

those that are tied up, sleeping, eating or caring for puppies.

And when petting a dog known to be friendly, always let the dog

sniff your hand first.

Students also got to pet a puppy brought to school by Denise

Rubin of the Jacksonville Humane Society. …

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