Charity warns on guide dog attacks
The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association is urging the Government to introduce compulsory microchipping for all dogs
Attacks on guide dogs by other dogs have reached a new high, a charity has warned.
The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, which breeds and trains dogs for the blind and partially sighted, said more than eight attacks are being reported each month.
Campaign manager David Cowdrey said: "An attack on any dog is frightening, but for a guide dog owner it is much worse. As well as physical injuries, each dog attack leaves a deep psychological scar for both the owner and the guide dog."
he continued: "In the worst cases guide dogs have to be retired early; in others they are left unable to work for a significant amount of time."
The charity is urging the Government to introduce compulsory microchipping for all dogs to protect the vulnerable and control aggressive animals.
Ministers announced plans in April to crack down on dangerous dogs but the package of measures did not include compulsory microchipping of all dogs and critics claimed it did not go far enough.
Jemma Brown, 23, whose guide dog Gus has been attacked six times, said: "One of the worst attacks was outside a coffee shop on the high street in Southampton. This dog came charging towards us. It pinned Gus to the floor and the dog's owners couldn't get the dog to let go, so they started punching it in the head. But they caught Gus a few times too and he was left concussed. He couldn't work for three weeks."
Mr Cowdrey called on the police to take more decisive action when a guide dog is attacked. He said: "Ultimately we want them to be given the power to treat an attack on a guide dog or any other assistance dog like an attack on a person."
A Defra spokesman said: "We have already launched a consultation on measures to tackle dangerous dogs and believe that to solve this problem we need to target their owners.
"Compulsory micro-chipping to help police and local authorities deal with problem dogs is one measure we are consulting on and in future it will be a criminal offence not to keep your dog under control on any private property. Once our consultation closes on June 15, we'll then carefully consider the responses before making a final announcement."