Charles Martin, 844-3698 (


AUBURN -- An insurance company that teamed up with Auburn University to publish a popular activity book on preventing dog bites has created a veterinary scholarship for the next five years.

State Farm Insurance Co. officials made the announcement in Birmingham when it honored two Auburn veterinary students who created Fido! Friend or Foe?

The book -- available in English and Spanish -- uses coloring, dot-to-dot drawings, seek-and-find and other activities to teach children how to act safely around dogs

Seniors Etta Agan and Joanna Burnette, along with College of Veterinary Medicine faculty, were presented with plaques of appreciation by State Farm. The company also presented the university with a $7,500 check for five $1,500 scholarships.

"State Farm is a great partner for the College of Veterinary Medicine," said Dr. Timothy Boosinger, dean of the college. "The company is to be applauded for creating this annual scholarship. We are very proud of our students, and, through State Farm's generosity, five future veterinarians can better establish themselves in their chosen field."

The scholarship will reward seniors who have completed projects to improve the relationship between humans and animals. At the beginning of the Fido! Friend or Foe? project, State Farm also contributed $5,000 to the general scholarship fund at the college.

"The benefits of this partnership are quite remarkable to all involved, especially to public health," said Bob West, State Farm regional vice president. "Hopefully each issue of the activity book will help prevent a child from being bitten by a dog."

Dog bites requiring medical attention in the United States number 500,000 to 1 million annually. On average, about a dozen people die each year from dog bites. In 1997, State Farm paid $80 million for 14,000 dog bite-related claims.

Fido! Friend or Foe? has reached nearly 4 million children in the United States and Canada in the past year. Agan and Burnette, working with associate professor Charles Hendrix and graphic artistic Lisa Makarchuk, created the book in 1997 and gave permission for State Farm to distribute it free to the public.

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