Guide Dogs for the Blind have today revealed that a shockingly high number of their dogs are attacked:
"A new report released today shows that attacks on guide dogs have increased to a new high, with more than eight guide dogs a month being attacked by other dogs. Guide Dogs wants the government to introduce compulsory microchipping for all dogs to help enforcement agencies police this growing problem and encourage responsible dog ownership." (Taken from the Guide Dogs site where you can read the full article.)
This is truly horrendous when you think of the pain the guide dogs themselves are going through, and the worry their owners are suffering; remember the frightened owner in this case can't even see what's happening to their dog. Guide Dog owner Jemma Brown has spoken out on the matter after her dog Gus has been attacked six times. That's six times that poor Gus and Jemma have been terrified through no fault of their own, and on one occasion Gus was left concussed and unable to work for three weeks.
This would be distressing to a pet owner, but guide dog owners rely on their dogs in ways most of us can't begin to understand; these clever, highly trained dogs are their eyes, and they work happily and tirelessly. These attacks must stop - but what's the answer? Will mandatory microchipping help? Would more severe fines and punishments provide a solution? A statement from the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) highlights the fact that currently the attacks on guide dogs aren't even necessarily a criminal offence.
ACPO lead for dangerous dogs, Assistant Chief Constable Gareth Pritchard, said:
"Dangerous dog attacks on other animals can be frightening for any animal owner, but the impact for those who rely on guide dogs can be especially severe.
"Within the current legislation, such attacks are not necessarily a criminal offence, unless the guide dog owner has also sustained an injury and the attack occurred in a public place. Consequently, it can be difficult to bring a criminal prosecution against people whose dogs have attacked other animals.
“In such circumstances there may be recourse to bring a complaint about out of control dogs to a magistrate in a civil, rather than a criminal, court setting. I would encourage people to come forward to police and report these kind of attacks as we can assist in bringing those complaints forward.
"The law concerning dangerous dogs is sufficiently complex to have required the training of specific Dog Legislation Officers (DLOs) to ensure its proper implementation. Even then, many believe it provides insufficient protection for the public, while the experience of the police service suggests it disappoints victims when they realise the limitations to what the police can achieve. ACPO will be providing, on behalf of the police service, a response to the government’s Dog Control Bill consultation to highlight the difficulties there are in dealing with dangerous dogs.”
To hear an interview with a guide dog owner, listen to Episode 26 of DogCast Radio where Julie Rodaway articulates what her beloved Wallace means to her and how he enables her to travel independently and stride out with confidence.
Assistance dogs of all kinds enhance and enrich their owners' lives; they deserve protection so they can go about their vital work in safety. If you'd like to raise awareness of this issue click here to write to your M. P. about these attacks.