Canine attacks on guide dogs rising
Ten guide dogs are attacked by out-of-control dogs every month, a report has warned.
The charity Guide Dogs is calling on the Government to act on the all-time high figure as MPs debate dog control in Parliament.
A total of 240 dog attacks on guide dogs were reported between March 2011 and February this year, the report by the charity said.
Five guide dogs had to be withdrawn from service during the period, costing the charity more than £170,000.
The number of reported attacks has risen since its last report in 2012, which showed an average of eight attacks a month.
Beth Dawes said she felt "helpless" when her guide dog Anne was attacked by another animal in Newcastle city centre.
"I heard a dog running towards us growling and I felt Anne being pinned to the floor," she said. "I didn't know what was happening and it was really frightening. Anne's wary now if she comes across a dog she doesn't know, and if I hear a dog growling it brings all those anxieties back."
The proposed Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill would make an attack on an assistance dog an aggravated offence. It would also make it an offence for a dog to be dangerously out of control when there is reasonable concern that it will injure an assistance dog such as a guide dog.
Guide Dogs chief executive Richard Leaman said: "A change in the law can't come quickly enough for our guide dog owners, who too often have to bear the devastating consequences of these attacks. When a guide dog is attacked, someone with sight loss can completely lose their means of getting out and about independently.
"The impact on their life is huge and we are calling on the Government to do everything in its power to promote responsible dog ownership, deter these attacks, and ensure this deeply worrying trend does not continue."