SOUTH Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Shaun Wright, has given his backing to proposed changes to legislation to protect assistance dogs from attacks.
He spoke out in support of proposals put forward by the charity Guide Dogs, which is campaigning for a law to allow dog attacks on guide dogs to be recognised equally as serious an offence as an attack on a human.
Commissioner Wright met with the Guide Dogs charity and was told there are an average of eight attacks on guide dogs every month.
Commissioner Wright said: “Guide Dogs provide an invaluable service to people who are blind or partially sighted, allowing them to have the same freedom of movement as everyone else.
“Following an attack on their dog, this freedom and independence can be taken away from them through no fault of their own, and I would urge anyone who has been a victim of this crime to report it to the police where it will be taken seriously and investigated thoroughly.”
Sheffield MP David Blunkett, who has a guide dog, said: “I am very pleased that Shaun Wright has taken up this issue so vigorously, and although we have a good record in South Yorkshire any attacks of this sort should be seen within the context of the wider issue of uncontrolled dogs by owners unfit to own them, and sometimes by human beings who are in need of considerable treatment.”
Vicky Coleman, of the Guide Dogs charity, said: “Guide Dogs are trained to ignore other dogs and to walk in straight, predefined paths. They will continue on this path towards a potential aggressor dog, with no perception of the risk involved.
“Out of control dogs are intimidating enough to those who can see, but the fear is intensified for those with little or no sight and an attack can lead a guide dog owner being left scared and alone with an injured animal in need of urgent assistance.”