National charity Guide Dogs is calling for urgent support from dog owners, as latest data reveals an alarming 12 guide dogs are attacked every month on average.
In nearly 60 percent of these attacks the aggressor dog was off the lead.
In addition to the emotional and physical trauma of an attack, for the dog and owner, this serious issue has cost the charity over £1.3million since 2010 – the equivalent of 90,000 guide dog leads.
Today, the charity is launching their Take The Lead campaign, calling for the public to put their dog on a lead when they see a guide dog working.
Canine researchers from the charity say this simple action could be the key to preventing future attacks.
Guide Dogs has campaigned on the issue of dog attacks in the past and back in 2014 tougher laws were introduced meaning if your dog attacked an assistance dog you could face up to a three-year jail sentence.
However, the charity feels more needs to be done to prevent attacks and is now looking to the nation’s dog owners for support.
Guide Dogs researcher, Rachel Moxon, says: “Guide dogs are life-changing for those living with sight loss, helping their owners live life to the full. Attacks on our dogs destroy confidence and can mean a guide dog owner once again loses their freedom and independence.
“Putting your dog on a lead when you see a guide dog working, allows you to have more control over the situation. Even if you know your dog is well-behaved, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.”
Attacks on guide dogs can have long-lasting affects for both the dog and owner. Mike Brace’s guide dog, Izzy was attacked in London back in June 2016 and the pair are still dealing with the emotional scars from that day, he comments: “Izzy was badly hurt by a dog that sunk its teeth into her back – whilst the physical scars have healed she’s lost a part of herself, showing signs of anxiety, which breaks my heart.
“Each day a bit more of her sparkle returns but it all could have been avoided if the owner had put their dog on a lead that day.”
For more information about Guide Dogs Take The Lead campaign head over to; www.guidedogs.org.uk/takethelead