Take the Lead
In 2014 Guide Dogs NSW/ACT launched a new education campaign called 'Take the lead'. It is aimed at creating a safer community for Guide Dogs and their handlers who are blind or vision impaired.
A new survey has revealed that working Guide Dogs are experiencing high levels of attacks and distraction problems from other dogs, causing them and their handlers anxiety and compromising their safety and independence. The Take the Lead campaign aimed to:
- Raise awareness of the danger off-lead pet dogs pose to working Guide Dogs and their handlers
- Educate the public about the importance of keeping their pet dogs on lead and under control when in public areas and particularly when around Guide Dogs
Facts & Figures
- 54% of the Guide Dog handlers surveyed said their Guide Dog had been attacked by another dog while it was working.
- 50% of attacks happened in the past year, while 85% of attacks occurred in the past three years.
- 29% of Guide Dogs attacked sustained injuries, with one retired as a result of the trauma.
- 70% of attacks on a Guide Dog were caused by an off-lead dog, with dogs on a lead (but not controlled by their owner) responsible for the other 30% of attacks.
- 50% of Guide Dogs attacked were attacked more than once in the past three years – 21% were attacked twice, 6% three times, 6% four times, 3% five times and 15% more than five times.
- 86% of Guide Dog handlers said off-lead dogs had distracted their Guide Dogs while they were working.
What are we asking?
This campaign asks all dog owners to please Take the Lead and:
- Keep your pet dog on a leash and under control when out and about.
- If you see a loose dog, please alert your local council.
- If you see a working Guide Dog, please give it and its handler space.
- Please don't pat, feed or otherwise distract a working Guide Dog. A well-intentioned pat can undo months of training.
- When approaching a Guide Dog team with your dog, please clearly introduce yourself to the person and say you have a dog with you.
Why is this campaign so important?
Guide dogs play a vital role in enabling people who are blind or vision impaired to get around independently. Attacks compromise this independence and can cause serious injury and trauma to both the handler and the Guide Dog. In rare serious cases, attacks can result in premature retirement of a guide dog, which cost more than $35,000 to train.