Close to 5 million people are bitten by dogs annually. This is a serious matter for the general public and is even more so for blind or visually impaired persons who choose to travel with Guide Dogs. Loose dogs can be a significant threat to guide dog teams.
Why are loose or aggressive dogs a liability to Guide Dog teams?
A guide dog that is attacked or intimidated by an aggressive or unruly pet dog may become damaged or traumatized for life and be unable to work as a guide. An attack can also take a huge emotional toll on the dog's handler. In many states, laws are being introduced which protect Guide Dog handlers and their dogs from attack and harassment by errant dogs and people. Irresponsible dog owners can be held financially liable for the actions of their unsupervised pets, and may be accountable for the replacement costs for the guide dog. Under certain circumstances the pet owner can also be incarcerated for up to six months.
What are some tips for being a responsible dog owner?
- Please do not allow your pet dog to roam freely in your neighborhood or to be unsupervised in an unfenced yard. Educate your family about how to prevent your pet from escaping from your yard and roaming in your neighborhood. Self-closing gates can be the answer to keeping your dog at home.
- If you have your dog on leash, make sure that he is under control. Do not allow your dog to be walked by a person who is not strong enough to control or restrain him.
- Learn about canine behavior and take obedience classes with your pet dog. Be sure your dog is well socialized around other animals and people.
- Be aware of your own dog's temperament and potential for biting. Even an overly friendly pet that jumps on people or other dogs can cause serious problems. Dogs are often territorial in their own yards, and sometimes even beyond the boundaries of their own homes. Irresponsibility or apathy in this regard may cost you dearly!
- When choosing a pet dog, research the breed before you bring the dog home. Some breeds require more exercise, attention, control and leadership than others. Although any dog or breed of dog can become aggressive, there are certain breeds that are more prone to problematic behavior than others.
- Be aware of your city and county leash laws and obey them.
- Take pride in being a responsible, intelligent, and capable pet owner.
If you witness an attack on a Guide Dog team, please call animal control and the police to report it. Include as many details as possible. Even though the Guide Dog user may be blind, they are perfectly capable of noting identifying information and reporting an attack.