Dear families,

I have noticed recently that we are having a few people bring their dogs onto school grounds, particularly before and after school while either dropping off or picking up their child. The rules have not changed about dogs on school grounds, and dogs are not permitted on any of the school grounds unless given specific approval in writing by the principal.

The only approval that exists at the moment, is for Show and Tell in classrooms where an animal from home may be brought onto the school grounds briefly for the purpose of sharing it with the rest of the class, and then it is taken back home immediately. At all times the parent is in charge of the animal and is responsible for its behaviour.

Guide dogs, Assistance dogs and Companion dogs are permitted as they have gone through quite extensive training and have legal standing according to the law. However, the household pet is not covered by these exemptions. Therapy dogs also have quite a bit of training and receive a certificate to acknowledge that training and suitability to be a Therapy dog, and so are given favourable consideration when requesting access to the school.

The Dog and Cat Management Act 1995, is quite clear about this and if you wish you can google that Act online and read it in detail.  The relevant section is at section 45A(2) on page 29.  It also sets out the associated penalties that may be incurred.

Animals are in the main very patient and forgiving with children, however, there is a comprehensive risk assessment that needs to be carried out when permission is granted.

There are some requirements that are standard requirements, such as current vaccination certificates, behavioural training to level five, a local Council certificate acknowledging achievement of level three training in that process as well as being an animal that is of an appropriate temperament for being around children. It is normal for high levels of training and suitability testing to take place over several years prior to a dog being allowed to work in a school.

Animals that come from home without any of this verified, are unknown to us and do not meet any of the criteria in order to have them on school grounds. We know that having an animal at home can be an amazingly positive experience for children, and also teach them a level of responsibility.

At school, animals are present for a purpose, either educative or in the case of our local dog, Atticus, to work with children while they read or to reduce high levels of anxiety so that children will engage with learning.