One hundred stitches closed Kelly's wounds, but post-traumatic stress disorder lingered for months. "I wouldn't go outside," she says. "I was scared." Her worried mom, Kathy Voigt, 47, says, "It clicked that she could use her survival to help others." Kelly's response? "Yes!" After researching animal safety tips, they founded Prevent the Bite with school psychologist Nancy Skeffington in 2000.
Since then Kelly has shared her story with thousands of children at schools, kennel clubs and Scout meetings. With an estimated 2.4 million kids likely to suffer dog bites each year, Kelly hopes to take Prevent the Bite national someday. As for her own trauma, she's put it in perspective. "Sometimes bad things have to happen," she says, "for something good to happen."
Kelly uses the acronym WAIT to teach kids how to act with other people's dogs.
•Wait to see if it looks friendly.
•Ask permission before petting.
•Invite the dog to sniff your hand, which should be in a fist.
•Touch the dog on its back.