There’s a warning to dog owners across Gedling borough to be more responsible after a number of guide dogs have been attacked and left traumatised.
National charity Guide Dogs is calling for urgent support from dog owners, as latest data reveals the aggressor dog was off the lead in 60% of these attacks.
In addition to the emotional and physical trauma of an attack, for the dog and owner, this serious issue has cost the charity over £1.3million since 2010 – the equivalent of 90,000 guide dog leads.
Today, the charity is launching their Take the Lead campaign, calling for the public to put their dog on a lead when they see a guide dog working. Canine researchers from the charity say this simple action could be the key to preventing future attacks.
Guide Dogs has campaigned on the issue of dog attacks in the past and back in 2014 tougher laws were introduced meaning 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 to prevent attacks and is now looking to the nation’s dog owners for support.
Guide Dogs researcher, Rachel Moxon, said: “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.”
Attacks on guide dogs can have long-lasting affects for both the dog and owner.
Claire Cooper’s guide dog, Minnie was attacked in October last year and the pair are still dealing with the repercussions of that day.
She said: “Thankfully Minnie was not hurt, but as time has passed her behaviour has changed. She now shows signs of anxiety and has become fearful of unfamiliar small dogs, especially when working in harness.
“As I am unable to see potential danger, I cannot protect her and I feel we are both vulnerable.
She added: “When a guide dog is attacked, the physical injuries may be visible, but what cannot be seen is the potential loss of independence to the person living with sight loss. Attacks could be avoided if dog owners put their dog on a lead when they see a guide dog working.”
For more information about Guide Dogs Take the Lead campaign head over to; www.guidedogs.org.uk/takethelead