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Guide dog owner Jemma Brown on why the new law on dog attacks really matters

19 Mar 2014

Wow! I never imagined that after my guide dog Gus, like many others, was attacked by a dog whilst guiding me through the city centre, that I would end up sharing our story nationally and even with government ministers. I also never imagined the huge amount of public support the dog attacks campaign has gained. 

Last week the Government passed into law that an attack on an assistance dog can be treated much more seriously as an aggravated offence. This ultimately gives the police greater power to act after a guide dog is attacked, until now it has been very difficult to gain a prosecution. It also means irresponsible dog owners faces tougher penalties when their dog attacks a guide dog.

I personally would like to say a massive thank you to everyone involved in the campaign whether you shared a post on Facebook, wrote to your MP or appeared in the media. Without guide dogs staff and campaigning volunteers working so hard together this massive step would not be possible.

It is however also time to pause to remember why this historical campaign had to happen

The trauma of a dog attack doesn't stop when both owner and dog are in a safe environment. It leaves its mark psychologically on owner and dog. Sometimes there are the horrific physical injuries to contend with too.

Sadly like many other guide dog owners, my guide dog Gus was attacked, not just once but on multiple occasions - he was injured three times. As I sit here and write this, the attacks come flooding back into my mind. Gus is now happily retired after being withdrawn when the stress became too much. Somewhat ironically, my new Guide Ollie (female) was also attacked whilst being puppy walked. Thankfully she has overcome this and is a fantastic guide, if a little nervous around other dogs.

My final point is a slightly sombre one, and that is this law will not stop attacks on guide dogs overnight, but it serves to increase awareness and ease the way for legal action, which will hopefully discourage irresponsible owners. To totally stop all attacks on guide dogs will take mass social change and awareness alongside common sense from dog owners, but this is an important step.


Jemma Brown, and guide dog Gus on Daybreak

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