Saturday, March 17, 2012

Owner’s fear after guide dog attacked

UNITED KINGDOM -- POLICE are hunting the owner of a bull terrier who attacked a guide dog leaving her blind owner in fear.

Glynn Evans, 64, and his five-year-old guide dog Lexie had just got off the bus at the Link Centre in west Swindon when a Staffordshire Bull Terrier pounced.

Luckily, Lexie managed to escape without any serious injury but Glynn, of Wroughton, who is registered blind, has been left shaken by the attack.

He is now urging people to be vigilant if they see guide dog users nearby.

“I was just standing there talking to one of the people I travelled up with – all of a sudden I felt something come up behind me. I have got partial sight so I could see it was a dog,” said Glynn.

“It pounced on Lexie and as it attacked her it was snarling and growling. She is my eyes. Although I have got some sight left she is a very close companion.

“It just brought it home to me that we are not safe even with a dog.”

Glynn said the owner pulled the dog off before it could do any damage, but he has told the police about the incident, which took place at about 1pm on March 7.

“The dog had a lead on but nobody had hold of the lead. I asked the owner for his name but he ignored me and didn’t apologise for the dog.

“The police are doing their best. They have spoken to the witness I was travelling with. There were plenty of people around,” he said.

“To have a dog attacked like that is traumatising. At the time I was frightened and annoyed.

“I just carried on as normal, I thought if I start making a fuss it might turn her and she might not work for me. We went bowling and carried on as normal.

“She was so cool about it. When the dog attacked her she just turned her head and looked at it. She didn’t retaliate.”

Police want to speak to the owner of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, who is described as a white man of a thin build and about 5ft 9ins. He was wearing a dark jacket, blue jeans and had short dark hair.

A Wiltshire Police spokesman said that they were examining CCTV footage and speaking to witnesses about the incident.

There were 12 reported attacks on guide dogs in the southern counties area last year, which equates to about five per cent of local clients reporting an attack on their guide dog.

Alan Fletcher, Swindon Guide Dogs chairman, said: “Most people who are partially sighted or blind can’t see the dog actually coming towards them and when they are attacked they can’t see where they are to get them off.

“The dog is vulnerable but we are vulnerable, too, because we can’t do anything to help our own dog. If people see anything they need to help us as much as they can.

“It could make the dog fearful of working and they could get worked up about other dogs being around. We need people to keep their dogs on a lead.”

Witnesses to the incident or anyone with information should telephone Wiltshire Police on 101 or, alternatively, contact Crimestoppers anonymously, if required, on 0800 555 111.

(This is Wiltshire - March 17, 2012)