Questions Continue Over Dog Bite Battle

Newschannel 6 is still working to sort out the story from the Wichita Falls Independent School District relating to the dog bite battle. Many of you have sounded off about the time line of when the WFISD banned dogs in schools

Newschannel 6 obtained a permission slip that all parents had to sign for their students at Folwer Elementary to interact with a teachers dog. On the form, Parents are informed that their child will be learning to care for animals properly.

Shannon Cushenbery, the mother at the center of the dog bite battle says she's never seen or signed the form. She says she ask the Assistant Principal at Fowler Elementary for a copy of the form she would have signed. She tells us the school says they don't have it because her kids started the year late. Shannon says her kids started on time.

Regardless, the form takes care to find out if a child could be allergic to the particular animal. Newschannel 6 wants to know why, if the school is that worried about allergies, did they not make sure parents of all students signed the form, even if they started the year late. Also on the form, the animal is referred to as a pet.

The school has referred to Mable as a therapy dog. In an e-mail exchange on Sep 16th we ask WFISD Public Information Officer Renae Murphy "was the animal certified for use as a therapy dog?" she responded "both teacher and dog are certified". The dog's credentials were cited as being an American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen.

News channel six talked to the Director of Communications for the AKC. She tells us the CGC program is not at all designed to certify a therapy dog.

Since we first broke this story, many of you have been speaking out and raising questions about the issue. Most recently, much of the talk has been about just when the District banned dogs from the classrooms. On Friday we reported that Renee Murphy said the Principals had independently decided before the school year to keep out the canines.

In an email that day, Murphy said it was due to the pending legal action. We went back to our records and back to the email exchange with Murphy on the 16th. We ask "How many other dogs are currently being used in the WFISD?"she responds "A pair of dogs are part of another class in the District." That was well after the school year started.

We are not the only one confused by that timeline. A visitor to this web site asks "Which one is it? If the decision was made prior to school starting, why did the School Board Members not inform citizens about this new policy at the time? If something was already approved as policy and implemented just say so. Why does the WFISD keep changing their stories?"

We had the same question, so Wednesday we called Renee Murphy again. She tells us that on the 16th she was told that the pair of dogs were working in classrooms. Then on the 24th, she was told that the Principals decided before the school year to keep the dogs out with the legal problems pending over the dog bite battle. Then Murphy says she learned the pair of dogs was supposed to start their work in October. She says since the ban, they will not be.

Paul Harrop, Newschannel 6

Click the links to the left to view the documents featured in our coverage of the Dog Bite Battle.