The Way I See It, column by Siobhan Meade

AS a guide dog owner of nine years, I am very concerned about the increasing number of dog attacks happening in the UK. It is a sad fact that every single month, more than seven guide dogs are attacked by other dogs.

Unfortunately this problem seems to be increasing, and that is why guide dogs and guide dog owners are acting now.

From years of experience, I can tell you that a guide dog and its owner work hard together to create an extraordinary and unique partnership. This takes several months and even years to develop.

When a dog is attacked the experience is extremely harrowing for both the owner and animal. Any attack on a dog is upsetting for its owner; however, this distress is heightened when the owner is blind or partially sighted.

At a Parliamentary reception at the House of Commons last month, Guide Dogs discussed how decision makers can act on dog attacks. This is especially timely given the recent Defra announcement and consultation on microchipping and the fact that the consultation closed two days after the reception.

Following the initial attack, the guide dog may need veterinary care or the owner may require medical assistance. In a best case scenario the dog will need time off to recover after an attack, leaving its owner without a trusted companion and a vital mobility aid for a time.

In more severe cases the dog may need retraining or may even be retired as a result of the attack. This leaves the owner for an extended period of time without the important support they need to help them live independently.

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Throughout a working life of a guide dog it costs around �50,000, and that includes the training of the dog, veterinary care, their food and other important management supporting and training a guide dog entails.

So, when a guide dog is attacked and injured by another dog, it is not only the physical and mental emotions, but it has a significant impact financially, especially if the guide dog needs to be retired earlier than it would have been.

I personally urge dog owners to take responsibility and work with us in insuring that attacks on guide dogs are no longer. Your co-operation would be much appreciated.