Help prevent attacks on guide dogs – support the Take The Lead Campaign

Brent Franklin and "Yorick" attacked in a Melbourne park
Brent Franklin and “Yorick” attacked in a Melbourne park

– Do you know how prevalent attacks on guide dogs and other assistance dogs in Australia are? At the Daily Dog we have recently learned over half of Australia’s guide dogs have been attacked whilst at work. Unbelievable, isn’t it?

If you’re amazed and saddened at these figures, you’re not alone. The number of attacks on guide dogs is becoming such a problem the NSW/ACT branch of Guide Dogs has launched a “Take The Lead” campaign to educate dog owners across Australia of the importance of keeping their dogs away from guide dogs when guide dogs are working.
As the picture of Brent Franklin from Melbourne and his guide dog “Yorick” graphically demonstrate in this Post, such attack are incredibly distressing for both owner and dog – and are of course entirely preventable. Guide dogs have been killed and many seriously injured in such attacks, with their owners of course very limited in their ability to rescue their dog from such situations. In Brent Franklin’s case, the only assistance he reportedly received from the owner of the terrier (pictured) was a foul-mouthed tirade.
As Mr Franklin said:
“When you can’t see, you don’t know what type of dog it is, if it’s friendly or a threat, let alone if the owner is nearby and how they are going to react,” he said.

He urged people to show basic respect by keeping their dogs on a lead and owning only breeds they could control.

He also discouraged pet owners from letting their animals approach specially trained seeing dogs.

“Our dogs have a lot to concentrate on,” he said.

“They have to guide us around safely and these incidences are off-putting to them.”

Guide Dogs surveyed 220 guide dogs handlers across Australia prior to launching their campaign, with some disturbing results:
  • 54% of guide dog handlers surveyed said their guide dog had been attacked by another dog while it was working
  • 50% of attacks happened in the past year, while 85% of attacks occurred in the past three years
  • 29% of guide dogs attacked sustained injuries, with one retired as a result of the trauma
  • 70% 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 30% of attacks
  • 50% of guide dogs attacked were attacked more than once in the past three years – 21% were attacked twice, 6% three times, 6% four times, 3% five times and 15% more than five times
  • 86% of guide dog handlers said off-lead dogs had distracted their guide dogs while they were working
It is safe to assume such figures also apply to other forms of assistance dogs, such as Autism Assistance Dogs. Rachel Wohlsen from Queensland, whose Golden Retriever “Sammy” works with Rachel’s Autistic daughter Savannah, has also reported unwelcome dog-on-dog interactions during Sammy’s training. With the training costs for such dogs running at around $30,000 each, the fact attacks on guide dogs can result in them not being able to commence or resume work presents a huge cost burden – in addition to the emotional toll it takes on their owners.
Pups4sale encourages dog owners to keep their dogs (and themselves) away from guide dogs when they see them at work. We also encourage our readers to educate their children on the importance of following this principle too. Additionally we believe harsh penalties should not only apply (which they do) but should be rigorously and publicly enforced where people or their dogs interefe with or attack guide dogs in their work.
The penalties that exist now involve fines running into tens of thousands of dollars for such atrocious behaviour. All that is needed in addition is the will of the authorities to enforce the law and make a few public examples of people who allow their dogs to attack guide dogs. By doing so, undoubtedly the word will spread to irresponsible dog owners that the cost of such irresponsibility could be very high indeed.
Regardless of the need for a crackdown by the authorities, at pups4sale we encourage all our members to support the very worthwhile “Take the Lead” campaign by Guide Dogs.
If you have seen an attack on a guide dog, or had the account of such an attack related to you, we do welcome your report below.

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