Protecting Guide Dogs from Other Dogs

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

Labrador Golden retriever puppies
Labrador Golden retriever puppies

In spite of our widespread efforts at completely domesticating man’s best friend, there are quite a few dogs out there that can’t seem to shake off their inner beast. A number of species, in particular, tend to be destructively aggressive, lashing out and attacking objects, people, and in some cases, other dogs. Now, a dog getting attacked by another dog is an unfortunate situation already, but when the dog being victimised is a guide dog, the stakes grow exponentially higher.

This is due to the fact that the guide dog is typically “at work”, performing its essential task of assisting a person whose sight is impaired. Obviously, any physical damage inflicted by another dog can render a guide dog unable to work until it heals, but more often it’s the emotional trauma that prevents the guide dog from functioning according to its training after the event. A single dog attack can undo all those months of intense training, costing the blind person an invaluable resource, to the tune of up to £50,000, which is the cost to maintain a guide dog during its lifetime. According to local reports, about three guide dogs are attacked by other dogs each month, with breeds like pitbulls, bull mastiffs and bull terriers accounting for up to 40 percent of these canine assaults. Worse still is that less than 10 percent of these attacks are properly reported, and the guide dog owners rarely receive compensation or even an apology, since the owners of these other dogs feel that there isn’t anything the blind person can do anyway.

To a certain extent, regretfully, this is true; the sight-impaired are ill-equipped to do much to fend off a savage attack on their animal companions. It is suggested, however, that blind people can carry a high-pitched whistle on their person, and when they hear the angry growl of another dog, they can blow the whistle to disorient the would-be attacker.  Other folks have suggested using squirt guns filled with water, or pepper spray, with the blind person pulling his dog close to him and spraying outwards, though this approach is dubious.  Certainly, the best approach is a community effort: blind people can be assisted by third persons in neighbourhoods that have pet dogs running free, and people with dogs can be educated on how to train and control their dogs not to attack anything that crosses their path.  Hopefully, people will come together on this issue and do what they can to minimise the occurrence of attacks on guide dogs.

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