Update #32 ·

up date from guide dogs today

Dear Guide Dog Owner

Keeping you up to date with our Dog Attacks campaign

You may be aware that we have increased our external campaigning surrounding dog attacks in recent times. Our efforts have not gone unrecognised and so far we have gained success surrounding compulsory microchipping, support from a number of influential MPs and more recently proposals to revise the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill; ultimately providing better support and protection for assistance dogs and their owners.

For some guide dog owners we are aware that this topic can cause anxiety. I am therefore writing to provide reassurance to you and your friends and families, that we at Guide Dogs always have your welfare as our top priority.

On 10th June MPs will debate dog control in parliament with the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill proposing that an attack on an assistance dog in England and Wales is treated as seriously as an attack on its owner. Changes will also give police a number of different powers to deal with irresponsible dog ownership, for example requiring an owner to muzzle their dog in public, or requiring somebody to fix their fence if their dog keeps escaping.

Over the past two years we have become more efficient at monitoring, recording and researching dog attacks on guide dogs, which in turn enable us to have a stronger voice with placing pressure on the relevant groups of people. Making use of our latest findings we will be providing an up to date briefing to all the relevant MPs and media in advance of 10 June, highlighting the need for changes to the bill to be made as soon as possible.

This briefing note will demonstrate increased numbers of reported attacks on guide dogs and highlight the impact of these on the guide dog partnership. The headline facts are:

1. Attacks on guide dogs are being reported to the charity at a rate of ten per month, up from the eight we reported last year.
2. A total of 240 dog attacks on guide dogs were reported between March 2011 and February 2013.
3. The cost of withdrawing dogs attacked between March 2011 – February 2013 from service has cost the charity an estimated £171,657.

I want to remind and reassure you that these attacks are still a rare occurrence. Our findings are being published to continue our campaign to ensure you, and your dogs, safety is paramount and not to contribute or cause anxiety.

Guide Dogs has worked with the Association of Chief Police Officers’ dangerous dogs working group to produce practical guidance should you ever need to contact the police in the unlikely event of your guide dog being attacked by another dog. The guidance details specific words and phrases to use to ensure a swift and effective response and follow up. If you would like to read a copy of the guidance notes please log on to www.guidedogs.org.uk/reportingadogattack

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