Blind woman’s guide dog was attacked in Norwich city centre
15:00 18 January 2013
Submitted - January 2013
The blind owner of a guide dog which was attacked in central Norwich has told of the terrifying incident and her dog’s lucky escape.
Lesley Smith, 32, could only listen and hope as her guide dog, Unis, was attacked outside the Back of the Inns entrance to the Castle Mall last Friday morning.
The attack happened shortly before 9.30am outside the Game store, when an unleashed dog described as a ‘bull terrier-type’ attacked the guide dog.
Now Ms Smith is appealing for dog owners to make sure their dogs are on leads and, if necessary, muzzled.
She said: “This dog just came out of nowhere and then vanished quite quickly after it was got off my dog. There was a woman with a bag and she was hitting it with her bag to get it off Unis.
“We are taught to drop the handle if your dog is being attacked so that they can try and escape and luckily this dog wasn’t able to sink its teeth into her and didn’t bite any deeper than her coat.
“But all I could hear was Unis screaming and I’ve never heard her make a noise like that before, but the dog didn’t seem to care about me.”
Ms Smith, from Dereham, has had her guide dog for two years and was just relieved they had both escaped relatively unscathed.
She went and sat on the windowsill of the nearby Blacks store and staff there checked over her dog and brought it some water.
Ms Smith, who is totally blind in her right eye and has limited vision in her left, then called the Peterborough office of the the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association for advice. A local Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) also came and assisted Ms Smith.
The association is campaigning for compulsory microchippng of all dogs in England and Wales, for police forces to take attacks on guide dogs more seriously and for attacks on guide dogs to be treated in law as an attack on its owner.
Shaun Basham, the association’s guide dogs engagement manager, said: “An attack on any dog is frightening, but for a guide dog owner it is much worse.
“With more than eight reported attacks on guide dogs a month, the trauma caused by these unprovoked attacks could leave a blind or partially sighted person a virtual prisoner in their own home.
“As well as physical injuries, each dog attack leaves a deep psychological scar for both the owner and the guide dog. In the worst cases guide dogs have to be retired early, in others they are left unable to work for a significant amount of time.”
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