Dog Attack Legislation Update

Since March 2014 the police have had additional powers to take action in the event of a guide dog being attacked by another dog.  The Exeter Mobility Team has been working with Avon & Somerset and Devon & Cornwall police forces to ensure that appropriate action will be taken when an attack on a guide dog is reported.

If your guide dog is attacked by another dog the incident should be reported to the police by calling 101 or 999 if an immediate response is required.  Police call handlers have been trained to respond appropriately but:

  • tell the police that you are blind and partially sighted and that your dog is a guide dog;
  • explain what effect the attack has had on you and your dog;
  • provide details of witnesses and try to get photographic evidence of the incident and any injuries to you and your dog; and
  • co-operate with the police by providing a victim impact statement.

When an attack takes place the guide dog owner should do nothing that puts them in danger of injury.

All attacks on guide dogs should be reported to the Exeter Mobility Team.  If you feel that the police have not responded appropriately then Guide Dogs will provide support and assistance and liaise with the Dog Legislation Officer.

The new law applies to all guide dogs whether or not they are working.  So it applies when your guide dog is free running or is otherwise not in harness.  And it applies to retired guide dogs.  However, it does not apply to guide dog puppies or dogs in training.

An offence is committed if the aggressor dog is dangerously out of control even if it does not result in physical injury.  However, it will be easier to prove that an offence has been committed if an injury has been caused.  Also, if an injury to a person or to a guide dog results, the attack is regarded as an aggravated attack and the court can impose a greater penalty, depending on the severity of the injury.

The information given above also applies to other assistance dogs trained by organisations who are members of Assistance Dogs UK.