Monday, 23 April 2012

Guide Dogs think the Gov could do better

Guide Dogs backs compulsory microchipping but wants proposals to go further

Guide Dogs ( has welcomed the Government’s proposals for the compulsory microchipping of dogs in England but is calling for them to go further.

Commenting on the announcement, Richard Leaman, Chief Executive of Guide Dogs said: “The Government’s preferred option is to make breeders responsible for microchipping newly-born dogs before they are sold.  Although we support this idea in principle, it would take many years before all dogs are microchipped, so we would also like to see the introduction of mandatory microchipping of all dogs, regardless of their age, within two years of legislation being introduced.”

With concern increasing about the number of attacks by other dogs on guide dogs, the charity is also calling on the Government to give police the power to treat an attack on an assistance dog as seriously as an attack on a person.

Richard Leaman added: “There were 147 attacks on guide dogs between June 2010 and December 2011. We believe that an attack on an assistance dog should be considered an attack on the person, to reflect the fact that a guide dog is a vital mobility aid and that such attacks are very distressing for people who are already vulnerable.”

Kirsten Barrett’s guide dog, Norman, was attacked in south Wales by two dogs while she was walking her seven-year-old daughter to school. Norman, a yellow Labrador, had to retire following the attack. Commenting on the experience, mum-of-two Kirsten, 41, said: “The attack was terrifying. I told my daughter to carry on walking away, so she didn't get hurt, while I tried to get in between the dogs. But they were too strong, and I got bitten on the hand and leg as well. Eventually, I managed to get Norman into a neighbour's house, but even then this dog was flying at the glass, trying to get at him.

“I'm still angry and frightened and my daughter's still too terrified to talk about the attack. Norman has been my loyal guide dog for six years and I’m devastated that he’s had to be retired early, it’s a huge blow.”

A public consultation on compulsory microchipping was announced by Lord Taylor today.

Guide Dogs' latest figures show that on average, there are more than seven attacks on guide dogs by other dogs every month. They also show that an average of four guide dogs a year have to be withdrawn from service following an attack, costing the charity around £200,000. Guide Dogs relies on public donations and receives no government funding.

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