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.