Loving our pups is easy. They make us so happy, and they make a huge deal about our presence every time we come through the door.
The laid back life of the typical canine can sometimes make us forget what our dogs have the capacity to do. Working dogs, like guide dogs, also known as service dogs are a primary example of canine intelligence. They’re an asset to the blind, and lately other dogs have been attacking our reliable guide dogs more frequently.
Being a guide dog is hard work, as the working dog has to be aware of his or her surroundings at all times, and a dog attack can be detrimental to not only the dog, but the owner relying on the dog’s guidance. Due to this, an attack on a guide dog from another dog can lead to jail time for the other dog’s owner.
Attacks have risen from 3 to 11 per month, a shocking 367% increase over the course of 5 years. The study, conducted by guide dogs and the University of Nottingham, researched these incidents of attacks ranging from 2010-2015.
While the causes cannot be 100% certain, only 55% of the working guide dogs were wearing their vest—an important indicator for people that a guide dog is on the clock, especially to owners of potential aggressor dogs.
There are 4,950 guide dogs in all of the United Kingdom, so 629 attacks over the span of 5 years is a huge number. They’re supported by an organization called ‘Guide Dogs’, and the cost of each attack makes it very difficult for the charity. Not only does almost half of all attacks lead to injuries, but more than 3/4 of those injured seek veterinary attention.
The costs of training a guide dog alone are exponential, the organization also helps with veterinary expenses (not just in an instance of attack), as well as food to those in need. The emotional impact on the dog, as well as the owner, is severe, to the point where 20 dogs had to retire after the instance of attack, and many had their work impacted.
After the attack, the guide dog owner can be extremely emotionally impacted in a negative way. They trust and rely on their dogs each and every day for absolutely everything task that they do, and when they’re hurt or in danger, owners can struggle trying to help them. 68% of injured individuals in these instances under these circumstances are the guide dog owners.
While dog attacks are pretty common place, it’s not as easy for a guide dog who heavily relies on his or her owner to bounce back. It’s important to keep your dog close and away from a dog wearing a guide dog vest, as they are out to work and not to play with other dogs.
While this number could be from more proactive reporting, the number of attacks are significant and have lasting effects on the guide dog owner, as well as the guide dog, and when seeing them in public we should take preventitive measures to ensure they’re able to do their job peacefully. At the same time owners need to ensure these canines have their vest on at all times to signify they’re working.