Campaign For Safe Pavements

Does it drive you mad when a car is parked across a pavement? Not only does it look ungainly, like the owner has just abandoned it, but it can cause serious inconvenience to people trying to use the pavements as intended who may have no option than to use the road to go around the vehicle! The problem is even more acute for those who can’t be expected to easily or safely navigate around the parked car via the road, such as wheelchair users or partially sighted people.

It’s a strange situation when people use their garage for storage and park on the road or pavement outside their houses. Surely their driveways and garages are for the cars? Unfortunately, people don’t seem to think so, because if parking restrictions are introduced, such as double-yellow lines, they just tarmac their front gardens and park there instead of using their garages. Of course, that’s assuming the garage hasn’t already been converted into living accommodation! Perhaps some of the blame lies with house-builders who seem to think garages only need to be two inches wider than a car, or the councils who approve the plans. I remember reading a newspaper article where a couple who bought a new-build house were upset that they couldn’t actually fit their car into it. The car was wider than the garage. How can that be? I don’t think their car was particularly wide. How could it be when it has to fit into parking spaces and lanes on a road? I think the garage was just very small, yet, the plans were, presumably, approved.  (hey, I found the article!)

The Guide Dogs charity have a campaign running at the moment called, “Pavement Parking“, where they call for, “a clear law where drivers cannot park on the pavement unless in a specifically designated area, in line with Greater London”.

Here’s how Guide Dog owners feel about pavement parking…

In the video, Simon says parked vehicles on the pavement cause him to feel, “mixed up,  agitated and worried“. It’s not acceptable that people with vision difficulties and their guide dogs are being forced to navigate around inconsiderately parked vehicles. According to the Guide Dogs research90% of people with sight loss cite pavement parking as the main obstacle they encounter in the street.

With 78% of councillors and 69% of the public supporting a pavement parking law, why hasn’t it happened? Perhaps it’s to do with the fact that councils make money from the people paying council tax and parking on the pavement in front of their homes, whereas they see little income from people using the pavements. Perhaps it’s due to lawmakers considering that people living on narrow streets may be forced to part on pavements. Perhaps it’s that people who park on pavements think they’re being considerate by not blocking the road, when, in fact, they’re being inconsiderate to pedestrians. It doesn’t help that the legal situation is confusing, especially outside London. The police have an article explaining the situation. The Department of Transport of the UK parliament is currently “evidence gathering” with respect to changing the law in England, whereas the Scottish Government has announced it will ban parking on the pavement.

So what can be done?

I think the best solution would be for individual council to have to power to draw line on pavements indicating where there’s enough room for people to safely stay on the pavement, including wheelchair users and partially sighted people. It would be an offence to park over the line on the pavement, or anywhere without such pavement indicators. Where houses don’t have driveways or garages, such as terraced housing, the council could make exceptions on a street by street basis.

It’s certainly a thorny issue. What do you think…?

No Parking
No Parking

 

 

Guide Dogs Attacked

This post was most recently updated on June 29th, 2018

dogGuide Dogs Attacked

Why would a human or dog attack a guide dog?

It makes no sense to me. I assume it makes no sense to most other people. But it happens too often!

The Ipswich Star has reported a second attack on a guide dog in just a few weeks.

Apparently, the owner, Kevin Ross, was walking back from the blind theatre group, Unscene Suffolk, when his dog, Bowler, was attacked. Another dog had jumped on Bowler’s back and became entangled in his harness. While there’s no evidence that the guide dog was targeted because it was a guide dog, as opposed to just one dog attacking another, the attack can be much more distressing for a person with a sight impairment than a typical dog owner.

It’s simply not good enough that a dog can attack another in a town centre. Dogs should be on leads and under control at all times. The punishment for having an out-of-control dog should be enough to dissuade anyone else from not being in control of their pet.

Helen Sismore, engagement officer at East Anglia Guide Dogs, said: “Since 2011 when we started to record dog attacks they have increased from eight to 13 on average per month.

“This is the second attack we have had recently in Ipswich, we are stopping people from getting out and about independently”. “We ask the public to be considerate of all people within their community and ensure their dogs are properly socialised with other dogs and are under control at all times whether they are on or off lead”

“We have raised this issue with Suffolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore and work tirelessly with the police dog legislation officer Emma Grosvenor. We need witnesses to come forward and provide information on the attack.”

This latest attack comes only weeks after another local guide dog was forced to retire after being attacked multiple times.

Simon Daws, from Suffolk Guide Dog Forum, said that the community locally had been greatly concerned by these attacks and were worried about the safety of dogs locally.

“It’s not just an attack on your dog, said Mr Daws. “It’s an attack on your independence.”

How Many Attacks On Guide Dogs Are There?

According to research reported in the British Medical Journal in 2016, there were an average of 11 attacks per month!

Data on dog attacks on Guide Dogs’ stock were reviewed to investigate the characteristics of the attacks. An average of 11.2 attacks occurred each month. Nearly all of the attacks occurred in public areas, 68.4 per cent of victim dogs were qualified guide dogs and 55.5 per cent of victim dogs were working in harness when they were attacked. Guide Dogs’ stock were injured in 43.2 per cent of attacks and veterinary costs for attacks were estimated at £34,514.30. Over 40 per cent of qualified guide dogs’ working ability was affected and >20 per cent of qualified guide dogs required some time off from working after a dog attack. Twenty dogs were permanently withdrawn from the Guide Dogs’ programme as a result of dog attacks, 13 of which were qualified and working with guide dog owners at the time of the withdrawal; this resulted in a financial cost of >£600,000 to the charity. More importantly perhaps, temporary and permanent withdrawals have a significant impact upon the mobility and independence of guide dog owners and in many cases significantly impacted their emotional well-being.

Stop Attacks On Guide Dogs!

What you can do to stop future attacks on Guide Dogs…

1: Report any incidents to police by phoning 101 as soon as possible and ensure you get an incident number not a reference number.

The “Dangerous Dogs Act” states that…

“Under section 3(1) of the dangerous Dogs Act 1991 (“the 1991 Act”) (as amended by the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014), if a dog is dangerously out of control in any place, including all private property, so that there are grounds for reasonable apprehension that it will injure any person or assistance dog, and whether or not it actually does so, then the owner, or person for the time being in charge of the dog, is guilty of a summary offence. That offence becomes an aggravated offence, and triable either way, if the dog injures any person or assistance dog while out of control. Prosecutions for the aggravated offence should be reserved for instances where serious injury has been caused.”

Note, there does not have to be injury, just a “reasonable apprehension that [the dog] will injure any person or assistance dog”.

if you’re unsure about how to contact the police and report an incident, the Guide Dogs local mobility team will help you. The more incidents and prosecutions there are, the more seriously the problem will be taken.

 

Talking Bus Campaign Meets Politicians

This post was most recently updated on June 29th, 2018

Talking Buses
Talking Buses

The Guide Dogs charity are currently running a campaign called, “Talking Buses” which aims to change the law so that audio-visual equipment is installed on buses and scheduled coach services.

According to James White, Campaigns Manager for Guide Dogs, an incredible “nine in ten people with sight loss have missed their stop“. Installing AV equipment on buses will help to reduce the number of times blind and partially sighted people get off at the wrong stop which would be an inconvenience for most people, but is a source of real anxiety and concern for people with sight loss.

Recently, over 150 politicians from the House of Lords and Westminster Parliament met with the GuideDogs charity to discuss the implementation of adding audio-visual technology to public buses.

Surely it can’t be too hard to add the ability to announce, both audibly and visibly, the current stop, next stop and final destination to buses? Apparently, Transport For London has already upgraded all of its 8,000 buses, so it can be done and the rest of the country should follow suit.

 

Note: need to follow-up on this story.

Warning…these three puppies will melt your heart!

This post was most recently updated on June 29th, 2018

Please note, this page is now out-dated and it kept for reference only. Please visit the homepage for the newest puppies to sponsor. 🙂


Saffie, Kara and Skipper are three new additions to the Guide Dog training team and they’re looking for sponsorships…

Saffie Kara Skipper
Saffie, Kara and Skipper

Skipper is a Labrador cross Golden Retriever and loves running around and playing in the garden. Saffie is Skipper’s sister who is also looking for sponsorship; she loves playing with Skipper and also likes a good cuddle. Kara is a Labrador cross German shepherd who is looking for sponsorship. She has jet black hair and gorgeous green eyes. She is a typical puppy who loves to play all day long! All three puppies are beautiful and are looking for your help. Please help to sponsor one or all of the puppies and make a difference to someone’s life.

Rehoming Failed Guide Dogs

This post was most recently updated on June 29th, 2018

Golden Retriever Puppy
Golden Retriever Puppy

Failed Guide Dogs

It’s unfortunate that not all the puppies bred to be Guide Dogs pass the training. For whatever reason, be it medical or behavioural, there are some puppies who just don’t make the grade and need to be rehomed.

The Guide Dogs charity usually has failed guide dogs aged 12-18 months available for adoption and rehoming. Note, they don’t ever offer newborn or very young puppies because their breeding litters will all undergo basic guide dog training to see if they’re suitable to be guide dogs. While a lots of people search online for “failed guide dogs”, the correct term is a dog that has been “withdrawn” from training and is therefore in need of rehoming. Behaviourally, a dog will be withdrawn from training if it is too nervous around people, objects or other animals, too suspicious or too easily distracted. Medical reasons for withdrawl include skin, eye and joing conditions which preclude a life as a working guide dog.

Retired Guide Dogs

In addition to the “withdrawn” dogs, there are also guide dogs who have ended their active working life and are seeking a new home for their retirement. These retired dogs can make perfect pets, especially for older people who don’t want young active dogs. Generally, a retired guide dog will be between 9 and 11 years old. In addition, a guide dog spends a huge amount of its working life in the company of people and, in retirement, will want to do the same, so it makes sense to look for retired people who usually have time available to be able to look after the ex-guide dog properly.

Getting A Retired Or Failed Guide Dog

If you’d like to become the new owner of a failed or retired guide dog, check out our dedicated website at Adopt A Guide Dog. Note, people who work full time are not considered for rehoming guide dogs.

History Of The Guide Dogs Charity

This post was most recently updated on June 29th, 2018

The Guide Dogs for the Blind in the UK was effectively started by Miss Muriel Crooke, a German shepherd enthusiast and Mrs Rosamund Bond, a breeder and exhibitor of German Shepherds on Wallasey, Cheshire, North-West England.

Initial support for the British guide dogs venture came from an American woman called Mrs Dorothy Harrison Eustis who had helped to popularise the guide dog movement in America and Vevey, Switzerland after spending several months at an existing Guide Dog centre in Potsdam, Germany, learning its methods.

Dorothy Eustis called the Guide Dogs, “L’Oeil qui Voit”, or The Seeing Eye, and “Seeing-Eye Dogs” is still a common term in the USA for Guide Dogs. To help Muriel Crooke and Rosamund Bond, Dorothy Eustis first met them in London in September 1930 and then sent them one of her trainers, William Debetaz.

In 1931 the first four British guide dogs completed their training and The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association was officially founded in 1934.

Campaign Against VAT On Guide Dog Food

This post was most recently updated on June 29th, 2018

NO VAT ON GUIDE DOG FOOD!
NO VAT ON GUIDE DOG FOOD!

On the back of the recent Budget squabbles over VAT such as the pasty tax, Guide Dogs UK have launched a campaign to have VAT removed from the dog food they purchase. It’s estimated that the annual VAT cost is £300,000, which could be much better spent training more guide dogs instead of going to the Chancellor. In fact, the £300,000 would cover the cost of training approximately six extra guide dogs per year.

Interestingly there are already exemptions from VAT for “specially formulated food held out for sale exclusively for working dogs” such as “dogs trained and used as gun dogs”, “working sheep dogs of any breed” and “racing greyhounds”. Police dogs and packs of hounds were added to the list recently (see below), but guide dogs were not, which is nonsensical. If you asked a random person from the high street to name a “working dog”, you’d probably get guide dogs as one of the first answers.

The snag is that the food has to be specially formulated for specific working dogs in order to attract the zero-rating for VAT, which basically means a high protein formulation for those active, working dogs. Unfortunately, that high-protein formulation is unsuitable for most guide dogs and hearing dogs who are not active all day, but rather are working in a different capacity by way of helping their disabled owners.

Not only does the cost of VAT affect the Guide Dogs and similar charities during the long training periods for young dogs, but also the owners of the trained dogs who will be the ones buying the dog food for the working life of the adult dog. Often the disabled owners are among the sections of society least able to afford the additional cost of VAT, especially on something so essential at their guide dog’s food!

HMRC says….

what is a pet?

Definition

There is no definition in the VAT Act of what constitutes a pet. However, in the appeal of Pope’s Lane Pet Food (MAN/86/0148), the tribunal offered its own definition: In my judgement a pet is an animal (tamed if it was originally wild) which is kept primarily as an object of affection, in which I would include an animal kept primarily for ornament.

On the basis of this definition we can identify a number of animal species as pet species in that all, or the great majority, of individuals of that species are kept and reared as objects of affection. Pet species are listed in Notice 701/15, Food for animals.

Working dogs

In their original drafting of the law, Customs and Excise assumed that dogs would be seen as a pet species, and food for dogs would automatically be seen as pet food. However, this concept was not accepted by the tribunal, who cited the large number of dogs who are kept as working animals rather than as pets. Specifically, in the case of Pope’s Lane Pet Food Supplies, the tribunal picked out sheepdogs, police dogs, guard dogs, gun dogs, racing greyhounds and a pack of hounds as examples of dogs which are not pets. Therefore not all food for dogs is standard-rated.

What’s interesting is that how guide dogs are so obviously NOT pets as defined by HMRC. While they are also not working dogs that require a specific high-protein diet, they are working dogs in that they provide a service to the owner which a normal pet would not be able to provide.

Quill: The Life of a Guide Dog

This post was most recently updated on June 29th, 2018

Quill (Music Box Films)
Quill (Music Box Films)

It’s not often a movie comes out where the star is a guide dog, but that’s exactly what, “Quill: The Life of a Guide Dog” is… a movie where you get to see the canine star, Quill go from puppy to trained guide dog helping his owner, Watanabe.

Initally Watanabe is very reluctant to have a dog, even going so far as to say he’d rather stay at home than be pulled by a mutt! By the end of the film, though, things have changed and Watanabe may have fallen in love with his new canine friend. 🙂

Here’s the official trailer…

According to the official web-page, “Quill” is set for a very small distribution in theatres, but perhaps, with a bit of viral promotion, it may become a success and be rolled out across the world!

Stolen Guide Dog Returned!

This post was most recently updated on June 29th, 2018

Andrea with Millie
Andrea with Millie

Yesterday we mentioned a news story about a stolen guide dog. Millie, a therapy dog was stolen from her home approximately two weeks ago.  Andrea Taylor, a five year old little girl who is legally blind relied on Millie to help her throughout the day. Millie was returned back home around three thirty in the morning.  The family found the dog waiting for them by the front door of their home.  Numerous cuts and scrapes were found on Millie, which leads the family to think that she was used for some sort of dog fighting.  Thankfully she has been reunited with Andrea and the family can now move on with their lives.

Shocking Story: Guide Dog Stolen!

This post was most recently updated on June 29th, 2018

Andrea with Millie
Andrea with Millie

It’s almost unbelievable that someone would steal a pet dog from a front garden. It’s even more distressing to learn that the dog was a therapy dog for a blind 5-year old girl, Andrea Taylor. The story is from Hutchinson, Kansas in the USA.

Andrea, who is legally blind and has cerebal palsy along with other complications, was given the dog, Millie, which was experienced as a therapy dog. Andrea’s mother, Lana, says that Andrea gained more independence from having the pit bull dog as a pet because she could play outside with her brothers and sisters and Millie would alert Lana if Andrea needed any help by barking and running back and forth between the two.

Sadly, Millie was stolen from the front garden by people driving a white 4-door car who pulled up, called the dog and drove off when the dog got in the car. Millie hasn’t been seen since, despite the family filing a police report. Naturally, this has devastated Andrea, who has gone from sleeping well at night to crying all night, which obviously stresses the family further.

The family has offered a small cash reward for the return of Millie, which is naturally all Andrea wants, despite the family being offered another dog.

See the video, below…