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In Your Hands

As part of the International Guide Dog Day 2018, Guide Dogs NSW/ACT launched the In Your Hands education campaign to make the community aware that the safety of Guide Dogs is in the hands of pet owners. The campaign encourages pet owners to keep their dogs on-lead when out in public and to follow simple Guide Dog etiquette, in the name of responsible pet ownership.

The issue

One in two Guide Dog handlers in NSW and the ACT reported they have had a Guide Dog attacked by another dog while working, according to a new client survey by Guide Dogs NSW/ACT.

The Guide Dogs NSW/ACT survey revealed that:

  • 78% of attacks on Guide Dogs were caused by an off-lead dog
  • 22% of attacked are caused by dogs that are on a lead but not controlled by their owner
  • When asked when the most recent attack had occurred, more than half (52%) of those who reported attacks said it had occured within the last year.
  • One-third (34%) of those who reported an attack said it resulted in injuries to their Guide Dog, with one Guide Dog retired as a result of the trauma.

Aside from attacks, the survey also revealed working Guide Dogs experience high levels of every day distractions from other dogs, causing their handler who is blind or vision impaired to experience anxiety, a loss of confidence, and have their safety and independence compromised. 

Other distractions Guide Dog Handlers reported include:

  • unaccompanied dogs tied up outside shops and cafes;
  • a person with a dog approaching a Guide Dog Team without making themselves known, and;
  • dogs on-lead not being controlled by their owners.
  • barking dogs behind fences and dogs tied up on parked utes in rural areas were also mentioned.

In Your Hands campaign

Guide Dogs play a vital role in enabling people who are blind or vision impaired to move around their community independently. Attacks and distractions 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 costs more than $50,000 to train.

“We want to raise awareness of the danger off-lead pet dogs pose to working Guide Dogs and their handlers, and educate the community about the importance of keeping pet dogs on leads and under control when in public areas and particularly when around Guide Dogs,” said Dale Cleaver, CEO of Guide Dogs NSW/ACT.

“We’re reminding dog owners across NSW and the ACT that the safety of Guide Dogs and handlers is very much in your hands. By keeping control of your own dog, you can help create a safe community, not just for Guide Dogs and their handlers, but for everyone,” Mr Cleaver said.

How you can help

  • 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 in harness, please give it and its handler space
  • 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.
  • Help us spread the word about the safety of people with vision loss.
    • Follow the Guide Dogs NSW/ACT Facebook and Twitter pages, and share our In Your Hands messages to your social network.
    • Join the conversation. Use the hashtags #InYourHands and #IGDD2018 in your Facebook or Twitter posts.

Facts and resources

Infographics showing the client survey results about Guide Dog distraction

Infographics with a list of tips of pet owners