Warning over attacks on St Albans guide dogs

Warning about attacks on guide dogs

Warning about attacks on guide dogs - Credit: Photo supplied

A ST Albans-based guide dog mobility team is backing calls for tougher measures against irresponsible owners who allow their pets to attack guide dogs.

Ten guide dogs are being attacked by out-of-control dogs every month according to a report published on Monday.

Five dogs had to be withdrawn from service between March 2011 and February 2013 when a total 240 unprovoked attacks took place on guide dogs, costing the guide dog charity more than £170,000.

Following parliamentary debate on dog control, the charity’s chief executive Richard Leaman said that a change in law could not come quickly enough for guide dog owners.

The Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill would make an attack on an assistance dog an aggravated offence and it would also make it an offence for a dog to be dangerously out-of-control when there is reasonable concern that it would injure an assistance dog such as a guide dog.

Between May 2010 and May 2013 there were 15 attacks on dogs supervised in the Park Street-based guide dog mobility team area which covers Herts, Beds and Essex.

Two were on puppies being taken for walks as part of the Hertfordshire puppy walker scheme, 11 on qualified guide dogs, one on a buddy dog and one on a retired guide dog.

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Of the 11 guide dogs attacked eight were working in harnesses at the time of the attack.

Treatment had to be sought following injuries to four of the qualified dogs, along with one puppy, and the buddy and retired dogs.

Three of those attacks occurred in this county, while the majority of the remainder were in Essex.

There are 48 guide dog owners in Herts, and the county has close to 6,000 people registered blind or partially sighted.

Shaun Basham, engagement manager for Guide Dogs, said: “An attack on any dog is frightening, but for a guide dog owner it is much worse.

The trauma caused by these unprovoked attacks could leave a blind or partially sighted person a virtual prisoner in their own home.

“As well as physical injuries each dog attack leaves a deep psychological scar for both the owner and the guide dog. In the worst cases guide dogs have to be retired early.”

Shaun added: “Guide Dogs are delighted that the Government has published plans to start tackling the issue of irresponsible dog owners.”