Alarming new figures show that 12 guide dogs on average are attacked every month and in 60 percent of cases, the aggressor was an off lead dog.
As well as emotional physical trauma to both dog and owner, these attacks have also cost the national charity Guide Dogs over £1.3million since 2010.
Last year there were 148 attacks on the charity’s dogs, including working guide dogs, guide dogs in training, retired guide dogs and breeding guide dogs.
To tackle this issue and help provide better protection for these assistance dogs, Guide Dogs is urging dog owners to put their dog on a lead if they see a guide dog working. Canine researchers from the charity say this simple action could be the key to preventing future attacks.
In June 2016, Mike Brace’s guide dog, Izzy was attacked in London and the pair are still dealing with the emotional scars from that day. Says Mike, “Izzy was badly hurt by a dog that sunk its teeth into her back – whilst the physical scars have healed she’s lost a part of herself, showing signs of anxiety, which breaks my heart. Each day a bit more of her sparkle returns but it all could have been avoided if the owner had put their dog on a lead that day.”
Back in 2014 tougher laws were introduced meaning that if your dog attacked an assistance dog you could face up to a three-year jail sentence. However, the charity feels more needs to be done and is asking dog owners for their support.
Guide Dogs Researcher, Rachel Moxon, says, “Guide dogs are life-changing for those living with sight loss, helping their owners live life to the full. Attacks on our dogs destroy confidence and can mean a guide dog owner once again loses their freedom and independence. Putting your dog on a lead when you see a guide dog working, allows you to have more control over the situation. Even if you know your dog is well-behaved, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.”
For more information on their Take The Lead campaign, visit the charity’s website.