THREE Guide Dogs are attacked by a pet dog every month while working, according to research released by Guide Dogs Australia today.
The national survey of 220 guide dog handlers has revealed some animals have been attacked multiple times, while others have had to retire due to their injuries.
The data also showed off-lead pet dogs were behind of most of the attacks on Guide Dogs.
ARTICLE CONTINUES AFTER THIS ADVERTISEMENT
[signoff icon=”icon-pin”]Guide Dog key survey findings summary
• 40% of Guide Dog handlers surveyed said their Guide Dog had been attacked by another dog while it was working
• 43% of attacks happened in the past year,while 83% of attacks occurred in the past three years
• 27% of Guide Dogs attacked sustained injuries, with two retired as a result of the trauma
• 71% of attacks on a Guide Dog were caused by an off-lead dog, with dogs on a lead (but not controlled by their owner) responsible for the other 29% of attacks
• 42% of Guide Dogs attacked were attacked more than once in the past three years – 22% were attacked twice, 5% three times, 5% four times, 1% five times and 8% more than five times
• 80% of Guide Dog handlers said off-lead dogs had distracted their Guide Dogs while they were working [/signoff]
To address this issue, Guide Dogs Australia is launching a new public education campaign today called Take the lead, calling on the country’s dog owners to ensure their pet dogs are always walked on a lead in the name of responsible pet ownership.
“We’re alarmed that so many Guide Dogs are being attacked by pet dogs and are appealing to dog owners to keep their pet dogs on leads when out and about,” Guide Dogs Queensland CEO Chris Laine said.
“Guide Dogs play a vital role in enabling people who are blind or vision impaired to get around independently. Attacks compromise this independence and can cause serious injury and trauma to both the handler and the Guide Dog. In rare serious cases, attacks can result in premature retirement of a Guide Dog, which costs more than $30,000 to train.
“Any distraction to a working Guide Dog can put its handler’s safety at risk. For example, if a Guide Dog is distracted while guiding its handler across the road, the consequences could be disastrous.
Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate said the city of Gold Coast is a fantastic, dog friendly city with plenty of off-lead areas to enjoy.
“There’s plenty of space for exercise and play – and no excuse for doing the wrong thing,” Cr Tate said.
“Dogs must be under effective control for the entire time it is off-leash – and that means responding to your commands and remaining close to you.
“If your dog is not sufficiently trained to behave in this manner at all times, do not allow it off-leash. On-the-spot fines apply when dogs are off-leash and not under effective control.”
For more information on Guide dogs Australia, and the Take the Lead campaign, visit guidedogsaustralia.com