West Yorkshire Police signs deal to support guide dog owners after attacks

Mark Burns-Williamson, Superintendent Dave Lunn, David Quarmby with guide dog Mick and Ben Drury (head of mobility services, West & North Yorkshire Guide Dogs & Blind Children UK)

Mark Burns-Williamson, Superintendent Dave Lunn, David Quarmby with guide dog Mick and Ben Drury (head of mobility services, West & North Yorkshire Guide Dogs & Blind Children UK)

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Owners of guide dogs that are injured in attacks by other animals will be supported by West Yorkshire Police, the force’s boss has pledged.

The region’s police and crime commissioner said the force will work with charity Guide Dogs as part of the new Service Level Agreement scheme.

Vulnerable owners of specially-trained assistance dogs, which help people in everyday life, will get help from the force after attacks by other dogs.

Mark Burns-Williamson said: “If a guide dog is attacked, it’s not just the dog that suffers but the person who that dog is providing support to.

“We shouldn’t underestimate what an impact such an attack can have and how much the people involved can be affected.

“By signing this Service Level Agreement we are agreeing to assist victims of these attacks and ensure they receive the best possible support.”

The new deal was signed at an event at Carr Gate Police Station in Wakefield.

It comes after other forces across the country agreed a similar scheme with the charity, which provides assistance dogs to vulnerable people.

Community engagement officer for Guide Dogs, Debbie Linford said: “The number of guide dog owners reporting attacks on their dogs is increasing. In most cases, the cause of the attack was unprovoked and the aggressor dog was uncontrolled and off the lead. Any dog attack is frightening but especially so for someone who is blind or partially sighted.

“The relationship between an assistance dog and its owner is quite different from that of a pet dog and owner. As well as being a constant companion, a guide dog is a mobility aid which gives independence to its owner, making an attack even more distressing.”

The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 makes it an offence to own or be in charge of a dog that attacks an assistance dog.

Mr Burns-Williamson added: “When I visited the Guide Dogs Centre in Leeds it highlighted to me just how important guide dogs are and the crucial role they play in getting people out and about and leading normal lives.

“It is important to make sure that attacks on these specially trained dogs are not treated in the same way as dog-on-dog attacks.”