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More Than Three UK Guide Dogs Attacked By Other Dogs Every Month

14 years ago

18th June, 2010 00h00

On average, more than three guide dogs are attacked by other dogs every month in the UK, suggests a review of 100 such incidents published in this week’s Veterinary Record. Bull breeds account for around four out of 10 of the aggressors, the findings show. The authors, two of whom work for the UK Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, analysed information on 100 canine attacks on guide dogs between November 2006 and April 2009. They wanted to quantify the frequency and severity of such attacks, and the impact on both the handler and the dog. Almost two thirds of the attacks (61%) were made on dogs that were in harness and working with their owner or trainer at the time. Most (85.7%) of the aggressor and (62%) victim dogs were male. Labradors, golden retrievers, and retriever cross breeds were the types of dog most likely to be attacked, with most of the incidents taking place in public places and in daylight hours between 0900 and 1500 hours. Most of the attacking dogs (61%) were off the lead at the time. And, excluding cross breeds, almost half of the aggressors (just under 46%) were bull breeds - bulldogs, mastiffs, bull terriers, pit bull types and Staffordshire bull terriers. This is a much higher proportion than is found in the general dog population of the UK, where bull breeds account for around 6%, say the authors. Guard dog breeds made up the next largest proportion of aggressors (13.6%), roughly double the proportion of these breeds in the UK dog population as a whole (just under 6%). Forty-one guide dogs needed veterinary care after the attack. In one in five cases (19%), either the handler or a member of the public sustained injuries, including scratching, bruising, and bites to the hands, ankle or head. In eight of these 19 cases, medical attention was required. The attack affected either the performance or the behaviour of around half the guide dogs attacked (45%). Two dogs had to be withdrawn from guiding service. There were also emotional repercussions for the owners/handlers, who received an apology from the owners of the aggressor dogs in only six cases. In eight cases, they left the scene without saying anything to the handler. This is despite the fact that many of the handlers were shocked and distressed, and unable to see if their dog needed veterinary care after the attack, say the authors. There are around 4500 working guide dogs in the UK, supported by the Association, and it costs around £50,000 to maintain a guide dog during its life time, they point out. “The financial implications of attacks on guide dogs should not be underestimated,” they write, “especially if retraining or replacing a guide dog is necessary.” And they add: “Most importantly, a person in critical need of a guide dog may be without one for a period of time while waiting for a suitable replacement to be trained; this will impact on their quality of life and mobility.” Contact: Ms Rachel Moxon, Guide Dogs Breeding Centre, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, UK Tel: +44 (0)1926 651 226 Email: [email protected] Click here to view the paper in full:

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