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Talks continue over Stanley's future

Talks continue over Stanley's future

Friday 22 November 2019

Talks continue over Stanley's future

Stanley the therapy dog is not currently allowed on school premises, but it's hoped there will be a way he can continue supporting pupils at St Anne's in Alderney, while allowing the school's Geography teacher to return to work.

Stanley only arrived in the island recently, but Mrs Etheredge suffered a severe allergic reaction to him, despite not coming into direct contact with the pet.


She reportedly warned the school she has an allergy to dogs, but went into anaphylactic shock soon after he arrived in the island, and is believed to have been off work since. 

Education, Sport and Culture, said staff have been working to establish exactly what has happened and the cause of her illness and won't comment further at this time.

"We have been working closely with the Education Office since one member of our staff was taken ill, in an attempt to establish the exact cause of the illness. It would be inappropriate for us to be drawn into speculation before the full facts have been established."

st annes school alderney therapy dog

Pictured: St Anne's School pupils have welcomed Stanley, but one of their teacher's has been ill since his arrival. 

However, ESC did say that everyone involved is being kept informed of the situation and Stanley is being kept away from the school until a solution can be found to suit everyone.

"Regular discussions are taking place with our member of staff, who has remained professional and engaged, providing thorough and detailed lesson plans and resources for classes during this period of absence from the School.

"During this time, our therapy dog Stanley is not on school premises and we are currently looking at ways to continue his socialisation with pupils.

"The Education Office and the School have followed all precautionary processes so that we can support our valued colleague to return to work in the very near future."

The charity which homed Stanley in Alderney is working with ESC to find a solution to the current situation. Paws for Support said he remains a much loved member of the island community.

"All the PFS dog are first and foremost pets, so Stanley is still a much loved member of his family. Stanley was specifically chosen from a litter of puppies because of his temperament and has begun basic training. He will hopefully continue his very gradual exposure to school in the near future, which will help him learn what is expected of him in that environment. PFS will continue to visit Alderney to assist directly with this training and support Stanley, his family, the school and Alderney community – in any way they can."


Above: Paws for Support issued a statement following the initial Express article published earlier this week. You can read it HERE. 

Stanley was partnered with St Anne's School through the charity, which is chaired by Sara Sarre who trains a number of therapy dogs which also work in Guernsey schools. 

She said a number of checks were done before Stanley moved to Alderney.

"In the year prior to Stanley going into the school, numerous planning meetings with staff were held.  A letter was sent to all parents of pupils attending the school about the start date of the school therapy dog and allowing for any questions or concerns to be raised. Staff were requested to inform the headteacher of any of their personal allergies."

Ms Sarre also said that a number of strict criteria must be met before therapy dogs are placed. 

"Prior to any dog attending any educational premises there are strict protocols in place -  calling for information exchange, implementation of correct hygiene and handling procedures, risk assessments etc. which all come in line with the ‘Dogs as Therapy in Schools’ policy. This was compiled with Paws for Support, States Vet and Education Department, who continue to work very closely.

"PFS also continue to work with worldwide organisations and charities to ensure their knowledge is the most recent, best practise and that we continue to work to the highest standards.  Paws for Support are members of the and Allergy UK and have the most recent and up to date information."

What is a therapy dog? The role of therapy dogs is to react and respond to people and their environment, under the guidance and direction of their owner. Therapy dogs can also be used as part of animal assisted therapy. This aims to improve a person's social, cognitive and emotional functioning.

It's hoped Stanley will be able to continue supporting pupils in Alderney, and Ms Sarre is confident a solution will be found.

"Yes, a solution can be found to allow both parties to continue to work in the school and Paws for Support are continuing to work with all parties concerned to establish this.

"There are so many benefits from Animal Assisted Therapy which are now being proven through scientific studies but in reality you just need to come to Les Voies School and speak to our staff and students on their feelings about their school dogs.

"The dogs help teach many things from encouraging attendance, building confidence in academic ability as well as helping students regulate emotions and reducing stress (especially during exams). Their presence can be calming and help encourage responsibility. As well as  - EmpathyRespectKindnessLoveNon-violenceFriendship and Trust. Dog’s non-judgemental, love life and playing approach to everything helps us feel more free. 

"We also help build student’s knowledge on how to stay safe around all dogs, which in turn will help reduce dog bites, whilst increasing responsibility and confidence around animals. 

"With the mental Health and well-being of our students (and staff) and our low literacy levels across the islands in the news recently – the Therapy dogs are an amazing strategy to be used alongside others to help reduce these issues and this has been proven from many years of Academic Research and publicised data. Paws for Support are members of many groups, organisations and charities working in all areas of providing Therapy Dog’s and are very versed, up to date and knowledge on the benefits."

Ms Sarre hopes by issuing a statement, the correct information will now enable a positive resolution for all involved. 

"It is a shame that the report was issued without ensuring all details are correct.  Considerable effort has been taken to ensure the right processes are followed prior to a Therapy dog beginning in a school.  We are disappointed that, without all the facts, this story has been reported and has thus allowed for some negative comments to be made without a full understanding of the situation.

"But equally Paws for Support are taking this opportunity to review its policies and continue to provide information and education to any party that may benefit. We are very proud that all of our members and supporters have stepped up in light of this reported incident and acted professionally, with dignity and continued to assist and support us. 

"We cannot comment on the ongoing situation, but we can confirm that and Allergy UK have confirmed; as we initially found from our original research prior to establishing the charity, that there are NO reported or confirmed incidents of anaphylactic shock relating to dogs in the UK and globally there have been rare, idiopathic, or one-time instances, of anaphylactic shock occurring in humans after physical contact with a dog.   However, most allergists do not list anaphylactic shock as a possible allergy symptom of coming into contact with dogs and new research from the United States is that these very rare possible incidents are actually owing to the dog treats containing other allergen such as nuts, shellfish etc.  Symptoms of dog allergies may be uncomfortable but are not life threatening.

"Due to the risk being deemed very low and the steps taken to minimise the possibility of allergies to dogs many hospitals, schools and nursing homes have introduced Therapy Dogs as there is an increased mental, physical benefit to their use which far outweighs the possible risk of allergies.  Being exposed to pets at an early age may actually help avoid pet allergies."

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