In February, a McKeesport mother left her three-day-old child unattended in a baby carrier on the floor. When she returned a few minutes later, she found the baby mauled to death by family's pet husky.
While the upcoming free class at Forbes Regional Hospital on dog and baby safety is not a specific response to that tragedy, organizers said they hope the information they provide will increase the safety of children and the success of dogs in homes with children.
The class, titled "Dogs and Storks," for parents, grandparents and teenage babysitters, will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. Monday at the hospital, 2570 Haymaker Road, Monroeville.
The class is a first-time partnership between the hospital and Penny Layne, state representative for Family Paws Parent Education, of the international Dogs and Storks program.
Besides providing answers to questions about dogs and babies to parents, the class was scheduled because May is National Dog Bite Prevention Month.
Mrs. Layne of Manor said she want to convey that ``there should always be one hundred percent adult supervision with a dog and baby.''
And that "training should be part of childbirth classes in every hospital.''
Mrs. Layne, who owns Aunt Penny's Pet Sitting and Dog Training, is a certified professional dog trainer; dog fight prevention counselor; and an advanced certified pet technician.
The class will cover these topics: your pregnancy and your dog; concerns about jealousy and acceptance of baby; setting up your home environment for success and safety; the importance of inclusion of family dogs in a safe way; the subtle body language of dogs; new and fun ways to include your dog in daily activities; and ongoing support.
Among the tips she will share:
n Before the baby comes home, turn on a musical baby swing with a doll in the seat so the dog sees the movement and hears the sounds.
n Put baby lotion on items such as the swing and car seat to and give the dog a treat when he sniffs the lotion. ``That way he has a good, positive emotional response to the smell,'' Mrs. Layne said.
n When you introduce the infant to the dog, do not put the baby on the floor and never let the dog lick the baby. ``Dogs want to investigate new things and they use their mouth and not just their tongue -- they could use their teeth if startled,'' she said.
n Use baby gates, dog crates, and tethers that restrict an animal's movement when including the dog to baby. ``We have nine months to get ready for a baby, but people expect dogs to bond instantly,'' she said.
n When a dog growls at a baby, it is a sign the dog is uncomfortable. Note the sins before the growl: lip licking, yawning or shaking.
One who will attend the class is Maria Synan, a marketing manager for Forbes Regional, who is 30 weeks pregnant with her first child.
She and her husband, Matt Synan, have a golden retriever and a labrador mix.
``I want to learn the best way to introduce the baby to the girls, who have been my babies for a long time, Mrs. Synan said. `We want a harmonious household.''
Registration is required. No pets are permitted. Call 724-515-7790.
In the McKeesport case, Helo, the dog that mauled 3-day-old Howard Nicholson on Feb. 16, will be sent to an out-of-state sanctuary that specializes in the handling of dangerous dogs. Brandy Furlong, 21, the baby's mom, has been charged with child endangerment and violation of state dog laws. She faces a June hearing.neigh_north - neigh_east - neigh_south
Margaret Smykla, freelance writer: email@example.com.