THE perception of assistance dogs was transformed during a special assembly at Parkinson Lane Community Primary School, Halifax.
Disability Partnership Calderdale wants to educate people to have a greater acceptance of dogs which help the blind, deaf, disabled and those with medical conditions.
There has been a particular problem in the Asian community where some youngsters are brought up to dislike or fear dogs.
Parkinson Lane was a pilot for the “Assistance Dogs Training for Schools” project and handlers and dogs were introduced to children.
Earlier, the children had written down negative comments about dogs with some believing they were unclean and would need a bath or shower if they came into direct contact with them.
But, those fears were dispelled after the assembly and pupils now happily accept the dogs and the role they play in the lives of their handlers.
The Mayor of Calderdale Nader Fekri and Calderdale Interfaith Council faith ambassador Raja Khan both talked positively about assistance dogs.
Councillor Fekri said it was an impressive assembly.
“The various guide dogs and their owners, really did manage to shatter some prejudices about dogs in general and these animals in particular The children went almost unanimously from apprehension to delight in the space of an hour or so.”
Head teacher Gugsy Ahmed said it was important children understood the role of the dogs and the school had now pledged to raise £5,000 over the next 12 months for organisations involved with assistance dogs.
Disability Partnership vice-chairwoman Marion Spruce, who is partially sighted, recalled a problem she encountered last October.
A taxi driver refused to transport herself and a blind friend from Marks and Spencer, Halifax. She later took court action and she said the driver was fined.
“I’m hoping people will understand our dogs are clean and allowed to go places other dogs can’t go because they are so well looked after and trained.
“This project is about education and breaking down barriers.”