• You are here:
  • News >
  • 2013 >
  • June >
  • MPs must act now as attacks on guide dogs hit a new high

MPs must act now as attacks on guide dogs hit a new high

10 Jun 2013

Ten guide dogs are being attacked by out of control dogs every month, according to a report published today.

The all-time high figure comes on the day MPs debate dog control in Parliament. The report by the charity Guide Dogs shows the trauma these attacks cause guide dog owners and urges the Government to act now to protect the freedom of people who are blind or partially sighted.

A total of 240 dog attacks on guide dogs were reported between March 2011 and February 2013. Five guide dogs had to be withdrawn from service in that period, which has cost the charity more than £170,000. The number of reported attacks has risen since Guide Dogs’ last report in 2012, which showed an average of eight attacks a month.

Beth Dawes’ guide dog Anne was attacked in Newcastle City Centre. She said:

"I heard a dog running towards us growling and I felt Anne being pinned to the floor. I just felt totally helpless. I didn’t know what was happening and it was really frightening. Anne’s wary now if she comes across a dog she doesn’t know, and if I hear a dog growling it brings all those anxieties back."

Guide Dogs’ Chief Executive Richard Leaman said: “A change in the law can’t come quickly enough for our guide dog owners, who too often have to bear the devastating consequences of these attacks. When a guide dog is attacked, someone with sight loss can completely lose their means of getting out and about independently. The impact on their life is huge and we are calling on the Government to do everything in its power to promote responsible dog ownership, deter these attacks, and ensure this deeply worrying trend does not continue.”

The Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill would make an attack on an assistance dog an aggravated offence, and will also make it an offence for a dog to be dangerously out of control when there is ‘reasonable concern’ that it will injure an assistance dog such as a guide dog.

Guide Dogs’ researchers also found evidence that the bond between a person with sight loss and a guide dog is even stronger than an owner and a pet dog, so an attack can be even more detrimental than on a pet dog, and they can both lose vital confidence and trust - in some cases, never wanting to go out again.

Mr Leaman said: “We have fought long and hard on this issue and while we are delighted these measures are being proposed, there is no time to lose. Only when irresponsible owners are held accountable for their dogs, and heavily punished for their aggression, do we believe the number of attacks on guide dogs will come down.”



Share:

"A change in the law can’t come quickly enough for our guide dog owners, who too often have to bear the devastating consequences of these attacks."

- Guide Dogs' Chief Executive Richard Leaman


Take Action

If you think ten guide dog attacks a month is ten too many, write to your MP now.

Guide dog Norman showing his injuries