New dog safety app launched to help keep kids safe

The app is aimed at primary school aged children. Photo / Auckland Council
The app is aimed at primary school aged children. Photo / Auckland Council

A world-first interactive app to help keep children safe around dogs has been launched in Auckland.

Dog attacks have made headlines in recent days after two savage incidents in which a 7-year-old boy and a heavily pregnant woman were mauled.
The new app, called A Dog's Story, aims to engage young children and teach them safe behaviour around dogs.

It was commissioned by pet food maker Mars Petcare and developed in Auckland by Colenso BBDO, with input from Auckland Council's animal management team.

The app is aimed at primary school aged children, who form the largest at-risk age group in Accident Compensation Corporation national dog bite statistics.

Auckland will be the first city to roll out the app in schools, using a suite of iPads donated by educational IT supplier Cyclone.

Councillor Cathy Casey, who chairs the community development and safety committee, said council received 150 to 200 call-outs a month relating to dog nuisance. In the past nine months, 17 off those calls related to bites on children.

"From this week, our 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 our friendly dogs," she said.

"Our dogs are very experienced with children and working with live dogs raises children's confidence."

Children will be given a fridge magnet to take home to encourage their parents to download the app at home.

Auckland Council animal management manager Geoff Keber said 85 to 90 per cent of households had a smartphone or tablet, so the council was hoping parents would play the game with their children and others.

"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 said.

Mr Keber said the partnership with Mars Petcare meant council could deliver high-quality educational materials without any cost to ratepayers.

A Dog's Story is available now as a free download from the App Store and Google Play.

Schools can book a dog safety education session on the Auckland Council website.

- NZ Herald

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