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Incidence and impact of dog attacks on guide dogs in the UK
  1. A. Brooks1,
  2. R. Moxon, BSc2 and
  3. G. C. W. England, BVetMed, PhD, DVetMed, CertVA, DVR, DipVRep, DipECAR, DipACT, FHEA, FRCVS3
  1. 1Guide Dogs, Hillfields, Reading Road, Burghfield Common, Reading RG7 3YG
  2. 2Guide Dogs Breeding Centre, Tollgate House, Banbury Road, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire CV33 9QJ
  3. 3School of Veterinary Medicine and Science, University of Nottingham, Sutton Bonington Campus, Loughborough LE12 5RD
  1. Correspondence to Ms Moxon, e-mail: rachel.moxon{at}guidedogs.org.uk

Abstract

In a retrospective survey, researchers identified 100 incidents of attacks on guide dogs by other dogs. These were reviewed in order to determine the number, severity and impact on the handler and dog, and the characteristics of the aggressors and victims. During the study period there were more than three attacks reported each month, with 61 per cent of the attacks being upon dogs that were in harness and working with an owner or trainer. The majority of the dogs that were attacked were male (62 per cent), and the breeds that were over-represented (relative to their prevalence in the general guide dog population) were the labrador and the golden retriever x flat-coated retriever crossbreed. Most of the attacks occurred in public places between 09.00 and 15.00 and the majority (61 per cent) of the attacking dogs were off the lead at the time of the attack. Thirty-eight per cent of the attacking dogs were of bull breeds, which were over-represented among attackers compared with the proportion of this breed type in the general dog population. Veterinary attention was sought after 41 per cent of the attacks, and in 19 per cent of instances there was injury to the handler or to a member of the public. The attacks were reported to have affected the working performance and behaviour of the victim dog in 45 per cent of the instances, and two dogs had to be subsequently withdrawn from working as guide dogs.

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