Guide dogs in UK are constantly attacked by aggressive dogs

by Darren Jamieson on June 22, 2010

A recent report has shown an alarming spate of attacks on guide dogs in the UK from other dogs, sometimes without even a word of apology from the dog’s owner. The report has been published in the Veterinary Record this week, and it shows that over three guide dogs each month in the UK suffer attacks from other dogs – sometimes very ferocious attacks that require veterinary attention.

Of the dogs that are performing the unprovoked attacks on guide dogs, bull breeds of dogs account for 40% of all of the attacks. The data has been compiled from reports dating between Nov 2006 and Apr 2009.

Worse yet is the fact that 61% of the attacks on the guide dogs came when they were actually working, guiding their handlers. Most of the instances also included males, with 85.7% of the attacking dogs being male, and 62% of the guide dogs being attacked also being male.

Most guide dogs are either Labrador or Golden Retriever breeds – and are unable to defend themselves against aggressive attackers such as bulldogs, Staffordshire Bull Terriers and Pitbulls. 61% of the aggressive dogs that attacked guide dogs were not on the lead, and 46% of them were ‘bull’ breeds.

According to research, bull breeds only account for around 6% of the dogs in the UK, so 46% of attacks on guide dogs being attributed to bull breeds is worrying.

Following the attacks on the defenceless guide dogs, 49 of the dogs had to be rushed to the vets for treatment. 19% of the attacks also saw the guide dog’s handler, or a passer by, also injured by the aggressive dog.

Sadly, two of the guide dogs that were attacked could no longer continue to work as guide dogs following the incidents.

Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the attacks was that in just six of the incidents did the owner of the aggressive dog actually apologise for the attack. Eight incidents saw the owners of the aggressive dogs flee the scene of the attack without even speaking to the handler of the guide dog.

Every guide dog in the UK costs approximately £50,000 to train and support for the duration of its life.

The authors of the research commented:

The financial implications of attacks on guide dogs should not be underestimated, especially if retraining or replacing a guide dog is necessary. Most importantly, a person in critical need of a guide dog may be without one for a period of time while waiting for a suitable replacement to be trained; this will impact on their quality of life and mobility.

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