Auckland Council is leading moves to keep Aucklanders safe from dog-related nuisance and harm. An amnesty has been declared to encourage registration, de-sexing and microchipping of menacing dogs such as pit bulls.
The council has also introduced a world-first dog safety smartphone app called, "A Dog's Story," designed to help keep children (and adults) safe around dogs.
This is a global app developed in Auckland for Mars Petcare by Colenso BBDO. Auckland is the first city to roll it out in schools, using a suite of iPads donated by educational IT supplier Cyclone. However, anybody can download the app for free from the App Store, and learn the lessons on their own.
“The council receives 150 to 200 call-outs a month relating to dog nuisance, including 17 bites on children over the past nine months,” says Community Development and Safety Committee Chair, Councillor Cathy Casey.
“The app is ideal for engaging young children and teaching them safe behaviour around dogs."
Animal management officers and training dogs will visit schools, teach children how to use the app, take them through the lessons and encourage them to practice their skills on controlled, friendly dogs.
Children are given a fridge magnet to take home to encourage their parents to download the app at home.
“We don’t expect all primary school children to have a smartphone or tablet of their own, but we know 85 to 90 per cent of households will have one. So we’re hoping parents will play the interactive game with their children and with other children in the home,” says the council's Animal Management Manager, Geoff Keber.
Helping kids keep themselves safe
“Our aim is to help keep dogs a positive part of the life of Aucklanders, and helping children to keep themselves safe is a critical element of that,” he says.
“Partnerships like this one with Mars Petcare and PEDIGREE® mean we can deliver high-quality educational materials that are relevant to young audiences without any cost to ratepayers,” says Councillor Casey.
Mars Petcare reports high interest in the app from other countries where dogs are an important part of urban life. The ‘A Dog’s Story’ app is available now as a free download from the App Store and Google Play. There are no in-app purchases.
Schools can book a dog safety education session on the Auckland Council website.