Animal allergy means school dog ‘puts girl’s health at risk’

Animal allergy means school dog 'puts girl's health at risk'

A mum and dad are refusing to send their daughter back to school unless they get rid of the school dog.

Yana Ivanyk, six, is in Year 2 at The Mead School in Tunbridge Wells and has a diagnosed allergy to animal hair.

Her parents, Mark Gordon, 53, and Irena Ivanyk, 44, have asked the school to remove the pet, as it’s having a severe impact on their daughter’s health.

Since September 16 Yana’s mother, who is a property developer, has home-schooled her.

Speaking to KentLive, Irena said: “We just didn’t realise this was an allergic reaction to animals at the start”, but that she suspected for a while that something was wrong with her daughter’s health.

“She started having something very similar to a virus and it just kept on happening, we couldn’t understand why. She was at home a lot of the time because she was unwell, but it just kept on recurring.”

When Irena attended a parents’ evening at the school, she noticed the dog called Mitzi in a class nearby and became concerned.

She says she was not previously informed that the school had a dog.

KentLive saw a letter from a GP which confirmed that Yana suffers from an allergy to dogs and cats and will remain on an inhaler for another four months.

Yana’s parents told how, on the night of September 16, Yana began “choking and suffocating” and became very ill.

They said it was “perfectly clear” that the symptoms she presented were the same as those she suffered when previously diagnosed with the allergy.

“It was very hard for me to watch, and it was just so difficult for all the family, we were so stressed and worried,” Irena said.

While Yana has avoided direct contact with the dog during the day, tiny dog hairs that become airborne could potentially trigger her symptoms. This has led to her parents making the decision to keep her away from the school while the dog is still there.

Irena said her daughter doesn’t quite understand why she’s being kept from school.

“I’m forced to home school her but it’s not about me, she’s so badly missing being with other children.

“I don’t have the words to explain to her why she can’t go back,” she said.

The school responded to the parents, setting out plans to reduce the risk of contact between Yana and Mitzi.

The plan involved children sanitising their hands after touching Mitzi and ensuring that Yana had her required medication at the school.

However, Yana’s parents don’t feel their daughter will be safe at school until the dog is removed.

“I don’t want my daughter to have to depend on an inhaler for the rest of her life,” said Irena.

“She loves to study and really does love being part of the school, she loves being around the other children.

“Her airways become inflamed when she is around animals so until the dog is removed it is not safe for her.”

Speaking to KentLive, a spokesperson for The Mead School said: “I’m afraid that we are unable to comment on ongoing parental conversations.

“However, The Mead is committed to providing a safe, happy and enriching educational experience for all its pupils and we are working with the family to resolve this matter.”

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