Guide dog bitten by blind owner
A BLIND man bit his guide dog during a savage attack on the animal in the middle of a busy city street.
The 34-year-old man sank his teeth into the dog’s head in an astonishing attack.
The assault has provoked fury from animal welfare groups who said anyone found guilty of an attack on an animal should be banned from owning one, even if they have a disability.
An eyewitness said they saw the man dragging the eight-year-old bitch across the access road at Meadowbank Retail Park before biting its head and kicking the dog’s body.
The sickened passer-by immediately contacted Lothians and Borders Police.
A spokesman today said a man was identified and arrested several days later. He has since been charged with breach of the peace and animal cruelty.
The labrador/retriever cross was taken into protective care by police and was later handed over to a charitable organisation for guide dogs.
Detectives are in the process of checking the area’s CCTV camera footage to ascertain why the man "lost it" before biting and kicking the beast.
A police spokesman said: "Any attack on a defenceless animal, particularly one trained to help people, is appalling."
He confirmed that a 34-year-old man has been reported to the procurator fiscal in connection with the incident, which happened earlier this month.
The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association has now taken the dog into its care and said it would be investigating the matter further.
Colin Gallagher, district team manager for the south of Scotland, said: "A dog is in our care until such time as investigations have been carried out and we know the outcome of the allegations being made.
"This is the first case of its kind I have known of in 11 years in this job.
"It depends on the circumstances, but there are a range of options open to us. Cases of abuse by owners on their guide dogs are few and far between, but we can withdraw the dog on a permanent basis. Cases can be complicated with other issues involved."
The association said it not only offers dogs as part of its service, but rehabilitation and even anger management courses.
If a dog is confiscated from a blind person, the association can train the owner to use long white sticks instead.
Anyone who is blind or is visually impaired and is over 16 years of age can be considered for a guide dog.
Guide dogs are trained to guide owners in a straight line unless told otherwise, avoiding obstacles on the route. A dog will stop at kerbs and steps, find doors, crossings and places which are visited regularly.
The association describes a guide dog and its owner as a "partnership", with the owner "giving commands and encouragement" and telling the dog which way to go. The charity mainly uses labradors, golden retrievers and crosses of the two breeds. Owners can wait for at least six months before their dog is trained and ready to move in.
New owners are also asked to enter into a legally binding contract. The association makes regular visits through a guide dog mobility instructor to ensure the dog is healthy and has regular visits to a vet.
Lynda Korimboccus, campaigns manager for Advocates for Animals, said she was disgusted at the thought of a guide dog being harmed by its owner.
She said: "This is absolutely horrific. Dogs for the blind are given to people in good faith that they will be well looked after. These dogs help blind people live their lives, which would make an attack on one even worse.
"Regardless of whether someone is blind or not, we think they should be banned from keeping animals again if they can subject them to such abuse."
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