The arrival of a resident therapy dog at St Anne's School in Alderney has been complicated by a senior member of staff going into anaphylactic shock, after suffering an allergic reaction to the new fluffy friend.
Pupils and staff opened their doors to 10-week-old Springer Spaniel Stanley just last week, after other dogs have proven successful as therapy pets at other schools in Guernsey.
Above: Paws for Support was recently named Charity of the Year at the Guernsey Community Foundation Awards.
Stanley is being trained by Guernsey charity Paws for Support to work as a stress defusing school pet. He is also expected to be trained up as a 'reading dog', offering a non judgmental audience of one for under confident readers.
However, by his second day at school two members of staff had suffered allergic reactions.
Geography teacher Angela Etheredge, who has been at the school for more than 15 years, is still having to remain off work nearly a week after she suffered a severe reaction to the dog last Tuesday.
She did not come into direct contact with the dog – who is being taken into the school for a few hours a day to become used to the new environment – and had previously informed the head that she was allergic to dogs. She had to be treated by a doctor for anaphylactic shock. She has been advised to stay clear of the school for fear of a repeat incident and is currently in limbo until a decision on the issue is made by the Committee for Education, Sport and Culture.
One parent said: "It seems a very odd situation. My daughter has had to miss her lessons with Mrs Etheredge and I just want to know when the school will act to get the teacher back in the classroom."
Some parents have expressed concern that not enough checks about allergies to dogs were carried out before the animal was brought into the school.
"St Anne's School has a very strict policy on peanuts for example – children are not allowed to bring lunches containing nuts into school," said one parent. "Yet all we had on the therapy dog was a last minute letter asking anyone who had any issues with them bringing a dog into school to let them know."
Mrs Etheredge would not comment on the situation.
Pictured: Ryan Davey, Stanley, Jess Coleman.
The puppy has otherwise been eagerly welcomed by staff and pupils and by new owner Special Educational Needs teacher and Inclusion Manager Kim Smith, who with Paws for Support will be training him. He will also go into the Connaught Care Home and the Mind Centre.
The idea of a therapy dog coming to Alderney was first mooted two years ago by Ryan Davey and Jess Coleman, both 15.
"Our class gets quite anxious when tests are coming up and during tests," said Ryan. "The idea began as a joke, with us saying, 'imagine if we had a dog in the class to calm us down'. They we found out that you can actually get a therapy dog and that got the ball rolling for Stanley to come here.
"I think Stanley will also be great at calming down pupils with behavioural difficulties."
Stanley's training is being sponsored by the Guernsey branch of Intertrust.
Paws for Support has already trained two therapy dogs who share a full time role in Les Voies School, a school for young people who experience social, emotional and behavioural difficulties and visiting therapy dogs who go to six other schools in the Bailiwick. Stanley's brother is to become a visiting therapy dog in Sark.
ESC was asked for a response and it issued a statement saying:
'The Education Office does not discuss matters relating to individual employees. We have a policy in place regarding the presence of therapy dogs in Schools, and officers work closely with Head Teachers to support the appropriate implementation and reviews of such policies.'
Pictured top: Stanley and St Anne's School.
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