REC-certified vet students help kids understand rabies (Part 2*)

  • Community News

Our last newsletter issue featured a story about University of Pretoria vet students who used GARC’s Want a Friend? Be a Friend! booklet while participating in the community engagement portion of their training. The students traveled to local primary schools and taught students how to prevent dog bites and how to prevent the spread of rabies in communities that are at a high risk for rabies exposure. Here, we return with three more stories from the vet students on how they used the Want a Friend educational booklets in the classroom.

Ramoshie Primary School. Photo: University of Pretoria

1) Veterinary students, Mark Reyneke, Danielle Montgomery, Mark-Anthony Murphy, Dieter Niebuhr and Suné Olivier (BVSc III), traveled to Ramoshie Primary School Ratsiepane District, and Suné provided this report:

“What, did you say ‘Rabbits’?”

“No, silly, I said ‘Rabies’! I think Dr Murphy is a little deaf, let’s help him hear: Let us all say loud and clear: Rabies!”

The Grade 6 class was laughing gleefully as they shouted “Rabies!” at the five silly “animal doctors”, dressed in green overalls and gumboots with stethoscopes around their necks, standing in front of the classroom. Our group of veterinary students did more than just implement our community engagement project; we played a vital role in spreading the message about the deadly disease, rabies, to rural communities. With the help of GARC’s handy educational booklets (n = 60), a plush dog toy and a sense of humor, we taught this group of learners how to prevent a dog bite and what to do if you do get bitten. Furthermore, we gave the learners certificates to go show their parents, and hopefully tell them what they learnt as well.

Mmammudu Primary School. Photo: University of Pretoria

2) Vet students, Marco Wasserman, Bronwen van Tonder, Frederik Loggenberg, Bethany Damonse, and Elana Smit (BVSc III) traveled to Mmammudu Primary School in Makapanstad district and shared their experience: Our aim was to not only to teach the children about rabies, but, more importantly, to teach the learners about animal welfare and how to best interact with the dogs in their community. We based our presentation on dog bite prevention and basic treatment of dog bite wounds to prevent them from becoming victim to this virus. The main focus of our presentation, however, was to help the children become more responsible pet owners and educate them on dog behaviour and reading animals’ body language as well as basic animal welfare.

GARC was kind enough to provide us with fun and educational booklets (n = 40) for the learners to take home so that they too can share the message of responsible pet ownership as well as dog bite prevention. These booklets were very well received by the learners and definitely aided us tremendously in sharing our message for the day…Hopefully, in the process, we were able to bring happiness and a better future to the animals in the community.

Ramahlale Primary School. Photo: University of Pretoria

3) Teneal Naidoo, veterinary student (BVSc III), traveled to Ramahlale Primary School, in Mamelodi, Pretoria, South Africa with classmates Tamryn Hilton, Lavira Hunsriaj, Mamokone Sekgoka & Ockert van der Westhuizen and provided this story:

Upon arrival at the school we were received by enthusiastic teachers and excited learners. Originally, we had been requested to take 50 learners; however, we had to quickly adapt to the 100 learners presented to us. Unwilling to disappoint our keen audience, our team of five introduced the learners to...a fun-filled learning experience.

The learners were taught how to identify different moods in dogs using body language. Moreover, learners were taught what to do when confronted with each situation, the physical signs of rabies as well as what to do if they get bitten by a dog. We used visual aids and interactive games to assess their knowledge of rabies and then corrected and helped the learners understand the importance of vaccinating their pets. Furthermore, we highlighted the five freedoms that all animals should receive. We concluded our presentation with a small feedback session where we divided the learners into four smaller groups and asked them to write down what they had learnt...that day.

Summarized by Laura Baker, GARC. The Want a Friend? Be a Friend! booklet is on the GARC website and can be downloaded here. It is available in a number of languages on the website; please contact us if you would like to use this booklet in a new language. A previous story about last years’ GARC fundraiser for Want a Friend? Be a Friend! booklets is here.

*Part 1 contains stories from three vet student groups at the University of Pretoria and can be found here. In South Africa, the GARC online education tool—Rabies Educator Certificate (REC)—has been integrated into the veterinary college curriculum at the University of Pretoria. Additional information about the integration of REC into their veterinarian curriculum can be found here.