Kelly Voigt's advocacy for dog bite prevention began with a tragic accident in 1999. While pulling her twin sister around the neighborhood in a wagon, Kelly, then seven, noticed a dog lying on its driveway. Kelly knew the dog, and didn't think twice about walking on to the dog's property to say hello. In that instant, her life was forever changed.
As soon as Kelly was close enough to pet it, the dog lunged and bit Kelly in the face and throat. "I squeezed the dogs' stomach and it jumped down. That's when I saw blood. I turned to run away, but it jumped on my back. Its' claws stuck in my coat, and fortunately my coat wasn't zipped. I slipped out of the coat and ran home." Kelly received about 100 stitches in her face and throat and bruises and lacerations all over her body.
One year later, Kelly was still being treated for posttraumatic stress disorder and depression. Her recovery came with a determination to keep other children safe from dog bites. With the help of her mother and a school psychologist and animal assisted therapist, Kelly started Prevent The Bite in order to help her recover from trauma, regain her love of dogs and keep other children safe from dog bites. She started giving dog bite prevention presentations in her school one year after her attack. Within a few years, Kelly's program became so wide spread that the nonprofit organization Prevent The Bite was formed.
Kelly continues to provide children with the information necessary to be safe from dog bites through presentations, a lesson plan, an educational packet and more. She created a public service announcement and made a video with the American Academy of Pediatrics. Kelly also appears in "The Best of AVMA TV", a film that is available to all members of the American Veterinary Medical Association. It will be used for several purposes, including in veterinary waiting rooms. It includes a five minute video of Kelly demonstrating PTB safety techniques. According to Sharon Curtis Granskog, Assistant Director Media Relations for the AVMA, "You have done so much to prevent dog bites locally and nationally that there isn't an adequate way to say 'thank you'."
"Sometimes something bad has to happen in order for something good to happen," said Kelly. "I'm grateful that I have the chance to help so many children be safe. I used to think that if I helped one child it would be enough, but not anymore. All children need this information." Prevent The Bite information has been shared with every Post Office in the U.S. every year since 2004, and has been sent to all 60,000 members of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Kelly has appeared on Oprah, the Today Show, ABC World News Tonight, in People magazine, Time for Kids, Teen magazine and the 2006 book 365 Way to Keep Kids Safe by Don Keenan. She is a winner of the Jefferson Award, BR!CK Award and a Pearson Prize National Fellow. She is a graduate of Valparaiso University where she played golf and earned degrees in secondary and physical education.