Guide Dogs for the Blind: Attacks on guide dogs rising, according to new report

Attacks on guide dogs by other dogs have more than doubled, according to a new report from The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association. In response to the report, the charity is urging police forces to take these attacks more seriously and calling for the compulsory microchipping of all dogs in England & Walesthe UK.

On average, there are more than seven attacks on guide dogs each month by other dogs. This number has more than doubled since last year, with a previous study on dog attacks wasby Guide Dogs published in Junely 2010(?) showing an average of three attacks per month.

Bull terriers, Staffordshire bull terriers and pit bull terriers are among the most frequent offenders, with around one in three of the dogs carrying out attacks from this bull breed group. In more than nine out of ten cases, attacks took place in public places such as parks, town centres and shopping areas.

In June 2010, Richard Leaman, Guide Dogs' Chief Executive, wrote to all Chief Constables asking them to help the association safeguard guide dog owners against these attacks. Despite this move, too many guide dogs owners are still reporting that the police take no action after an attack takes place.

Commenting on the issue, Mr Leaman said: “We recognise that police forces are under pressure, but these attacks are antisocial and have a devastating effect on vulnerable people. We want police to recognise the enormous impact that these attacks have on people’s ability to live independently and respond accordingly.

One guide dog owner who was a victim of an attack reported wanting to move house afterwards and others said they were too frightened to go out. More frequently, people report that an attack left them upset, angry or shaken.

In 70% of attacks, guide dogs needed veterinary attention. The canine victims also often become nervous and lose their confidence. In some cases, guide dogs were so traumatised by their experience that they had to be withdrawn from service, costing Guide Dogs thousands of pounds.

“Locally, we want police forces to take these attacks seriously and send a clear message that they are unacceptable,” continued Mr Leaman. “We are happy to work with police forces to find a solution. Nationally, we think it’s time that all dogs were microchipped so it’s easy to identify the owners of dangerous dogs.”

Linda Oliver's guide dog, Zoe, was attacked at a busy summer event by a Staffordshire bull terrier. Linda, from Stockton-on-Tees, said: "This dog just flew out of nowhere and started biting Zoe. The owner just stood there, watching. He didn't do anything.

"I was hysterical. I was so shocked and so unable to do anything. Luckily the police were nearby, and they escorted the dog and its owner from the park and took our details, but that was it. They should have done more – I want the owner to understand how the attack has impacted on my life. It made a huge dent in our confidence, and I want him to pay the vet's bill."


Notes for editors:
1. About The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association:
The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association is a British charitable organisation founded in 1934. Guide Dogs provides independence and freedom to thousands of blind and partially sighted people across the UK through the provision of guide dogs, mobility and other rehabilitation services. It also campaigns passionately for the rights of those with visual impairments. Guide Dogs is working towards a society in which blind and partially sighted people enjoy the same freedom of movement as everyone else.

For more information:
For, a copy of the report or to speak to guide dog owners whose dogs have been attacked, contact Annabel Williams on 0118 983 0183 or