Deafblind UK is proud to be working with Guide Dogs and the Suffolk Police Learning and Development Team to ensure police officers understand the impact of an attack on a guide dog.
The three organisations have teamed up to produce a video and an online learning tool for Suffolk Police Force. This will train police officers in what to do in the event of an attack on an assistance dog. It will be made available to 1,300 police officers in Suffolk and if successful, could be rolled out nationally to 130,000 police officers.
Deafblind UK’s Training Manager Christine Hardy added: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with Guide Dogs to develop this training. As an online learning tool, it will help Police officers to be aware of and meet the needs of people who are deafblind, or experience dual sensory loss living in their communities.”
James White, Guide Dogs Campaigns Manager explained: “Attacks on guide dogs are extremely distressing for their owners. Not only is the attack itself traumatic, but if the dog has to stop working, then the owner may find it impossible to leave home on their own. We welcome the commitment of police forces like Suffolk to ensure their staff know how to respond when an attack on an assistance dog is reported.”
Rachel Moxon, Guide Dogs Canine Research Associate, said: “Over the last 12 months we have seen 11 dog attacks in Suffolk and 145 attacks nationally. Two guide dogs have been withdrawn early with estimated costs of £52,509 to Guide Dogs and 6.5 years of working years lost”. Guide Dogs relies on donations from the public to keep their life-changing services running.
This project is funded by a grant made to Guide Dogs from Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner to help combat attacks on assistance dogs. Guide Dogs provide support to help people with sight loss move around safely and confidently, to get out of their homes and be able to live their lives the way they choose.
Carolyn Allum whose guide dog Ally had to be retired early after repeated attacks said: “This funding ensures Police have a clear understanding of the detailed Dangerous Dogs legislation. Over the last 12 months I’ve experienced the devastating consequences of these horrific attacks when my own beloved guide dog had to be withdrawn from service. The impact on my independence and emotional well-being has been overwhelming. I am hoping to once again experience the liberation and freedom these amazing dogs give”.
“This is an amazing partnership opportunity which brings benefits not only in helping Police Officers get better outcomes when dealing with a dog attack on an assistance dog. It also means people who are blind or partially sighted living in Suffolk using a guide dog will feel safer in their community” says Helen Sismore Engagement Officer for Guide Dogs.