Anger After Guide Dog Attacked

A blind woman was left terrified when her guide dog was attacked and injured just yards from her home.

Black labrador Gwen was working and in harness when a loose dog attacked her by the throat, said owner Julie Rees. Mrs Rees screamed for help following the incident on Ystrad Road in Fforestfach, Swansea, on Thursday. South Wales Police said there had been no arrests and it was not known if the small brown and white Staffordshire or terrier cross had been put down.

“We had been delivering Christmas cards to friends and were on the pavement walking home not far from the post office (on Carmarthen Road),” Mrs Rees said.

“I always know if there’s a dog around because Gwen’s head goes up and her tail wags. She’s so friendly.

“But this dog did not even stop to sniff her – it just flew at her. I tried to shield her but it clamped down on her throat and would not let go. Gwen was in harness and would not fight back. “I think the whole of Fforestfach heard me screaming. It took two men to get the dog off Gwen.”

One man held onto the dog, which was wearing a collar, until police arrived and took the animal away. A motorist took Mrs Rees and Gwen safely home. “I knew Gwen was hurt because her chest was soaking wet and she winced when I touched her,” she said. “She had bruising and puncture wounds.” Gwen suffered bite marks near her windpipe and Mrs Rees is having to bathe the wounds twice a day.

The attack has left both guide dog and owner badly shaken and unable to go out. “It is horrendous for any dog to be attacked, but Gwen is my eyes,” said Mrs Rees. “I can’t get about without her.

“Usually if it’s just me and her in the house, she cuddles up to me or tries to get onto my lap, but she’s just lying there quietly. She’s not herself and she’s eating really slowly, as if her throat hurts.”

Guide Dogs Cymru is supporting Mrs Rees and has told her that Gwen will need assessment and retraining before working again. The charity has been campaigning for a change in the law so that an attack on a guide dog is treated as an attack on its owner. Andrea Gordon, engagement manager for Guide Dogs Cymru, said: “We believe the proposed change in the law cannot come quickly enough for owners who have to deal with the devastating consequences of attacks.

“When a guide dog is attacked, someone with sight loss can completely lose their means of getting out and about independently.

“The impact on their life is huge and this is why we have campaigned so hard to get the law changed.”

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Michael Hingson’s Comment:

“This kind of dog attack is happening more frequently to guide dogs around the world. Dog owners are acting in an irresponsible manner when they permit their dogs to run loose and uncontrolled.

Guide dogs cost tens of thousands of dollars to raise, train, and be teamed with a partner. Please help us protect guide dogs by managing your pets.”

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