Take the Lead Campaign

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We are working with Guide Dogs UK on a 'Take the Lead' campaign to encourage responsible dog ownership and prevent attacks on assistance dogs following multiple attacks in Ipswich this year.

Nationally, Guide Dogs UK say there are around 12 attacks on guide dogs reported every month and not only is it extremely distressing for their owners it can mean the dog can no longer work, leaving people isolated and without a mobility aid to get them out and about.

In March 2018, two attacks on guide dogs were reported locally, leaving both dogs injured and the owners extremely upset. One said: “It’s not just an attack on your dog; it’s an attack on your independence.”

Another owner, Carolyn Allum, was faced with heartbreak as her guide dog was forced to retire after being attacked no fewer than six times. Carolyn is backing the campaign, urging owners of other dogs to keep them under control at all times.

The Take The Lead campaigns in 2018 and 2019 have had support from partners including Guide Dogs UK, Suffolk Police, Jollyes, Ipswich Veterinary Centre, and Ipswich Central.

What the law says

If a dog attacks an assistance dog then its owner will have committed an offence under the Dangerous Dogs Act. If the dog injures the assistance dog, then its owner will be liable for prosecution and face a maximum sentence of three years in prison.

Dogs which attack, whether causing harm or not, are classed as being “dangerously out of control”.

What to do if you witness an attack

If you witness an attack on an assistance dog you should:

  • Call 101
  • Seek medical assistance if required for the dog owner
  • Collect contact details of witnesses
  • Keep a record of what happened
  • Keep offender on the premises
  • Keep any CCTV

What you can do to help

Every dog owner can help us with this campaign by making sure that they are a responsible dog owner, this means:

  • Following guidance on how to care for you dog - see the RSPCA's 'How to take care of your dog' guide
  • Microchipping your pet - this gives them the best chance of being identified and returned to you if they become lost or stolen. It is a legal requirement to have any dog over the age of eight week microchipped and to keep your details up-to-date, find out more about dog microchipping
  • Not letting your dog approach any working dog, guide dog or assistance dog - they may look cute but they have a job to do
  • Keeping your dog on a lead and under full control when around assistance dogs

Contact Details

Area Committees,
Ipswich Borough Council,
Grafton House,
15 - 17 Russell Road,

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01473 432224