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Teacher has severe allergic reaction to school therapy dog

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A SENIOR Alderney teacher has been left at home in limbo after suffering a severe allergic reaction to St Anne’s School’s new therapy dog.

St Anne’s geography teacher Angela Etheredge has suffered a severe allergic reaction to the Alderney school’s new therapy dog Stanley, inset, who started there last week. (Main picture by Adrian Miller, 26402929)

On doctors’ advice, geography teacher Angela Etheredge has had to remain at home for nearly a week after the incident to avoid a repeat reaction while the dog visits the school. It is understood that a second teacher also suffered an allergic episode.

An Education spokesperson said they were unable to 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,’ they said.

No details have been released about what that policy is.

Currently the dog is visiting the school for a few hours a day to get used to being in the new environment.

No decision has yet been made on how or if the teacher and the pet, a 10-week-old springer spaniel, will co-exist at the school.

The incident happened last week, shortly after the dog, named Stanley by pupils, was taken into the school, along the main corridor. The affected member of staff did not come into direct contact with the animal. She was treated by a doctor for anaphylactic shock.

Arrangements for St Anne’s to adopt a therapy dog, with the help of charity Paws for Support in Guernsey, began two years ago. It is understood that the teacher, who has taught at the school for more than 15 years, did inform the school authorities that she was allergic to dogs before Stanley arrived.

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Pupils have had to miss geography lessons with Mrs Etheredge, who is also strongly engaged in the extracurricular life of the school, over the course of the past week.

The matter was reported to Education, but since then she has been left not knowing how the matter will be resolved.

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.’

Parents received a letter dated 5 November informing them that a therapy dog was going to be starting at the school on Monday 11 November. They were invited to ask questions contact the school if their child had any relevant issues with dogs.

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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.

Juliet Pouteaux

By Juliet Pouteaux
News reporter

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