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Weekly Edition - Publication date:- 2017-02-10

-en Southport & Mersey Reporter

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Merseyside Police Chief set to visit Guide Dogs Liverpool

ON Monday, 13 February 2017, Chief Constable of Merseyside Police, Andy Cooke is set to visit Guide Dogs, Liverpool, to highlight the importance of Merseyside Police's ongoing support following a number of dog attacks on guide dogs. Both organisations have worked in partnership since attacks on assistance dogs were recognised as a crime in changes to legislation, on 13 March 2014. Under the new law, if your dog attacks a guide, or any assistance dog, you can now face up to a maximum sentence of 3 years in prison.  Lynette Proctor, Guide Dogs Community Engagement Officer explains:- "People often question why an attack on a guide dog is now seen as a criminal offence, unlike other dog on dog attacks. If a guide dog is unable to work as a result of an attack, whether temporarily or permanently, it doesn't just have an impact on the dog, but also robs their blind or partially sighted owner of their independence, often meaning they are unable to leave their own home. Even what might be perceived as a minor attack can have devastating and long term consequences."

In recent years the number of reported dog attacks on guide dogs has grown rapidly, with the latest research by Guide Dogs showing that, on average, ten guide dogs are attacked each month across the UK.  As a result, Guide Dogs and Merseyside Police have worked together to put in place a Service Level Agreement to ensure that any guide dog owner within Merseyside who becomes the victim of an attack receives the best possible care available. This includes agreement to assign a named and contactable Officer to the owner's case and also recording them as vulnerable, enabling tailored support for their specific needs.

Merseyside Police Chief Constable Andy Cooke:- "We are proud to work alongside Guide Dogs are ensuring that prosecutions for attacks on any assistance dogs are fully supported through the courts. Our Service Level Agreement shows this commitment in providing the highest standards of victim care throughout any investigation. It is an honour to be invited along to see the work that goes on day to day to people who rely on guide dogs for their independence."

During his visit Chief Constable Cooke will meet with local guide dog owners who have been victims of a dog attack, as well as having the opportunity to take part in a blind fold walk with a trainee guide dog.

To find out more about the impact of dog attacks on guide dogs visit:- GuideDogs.Org.UK/Campaigns/Dog-Attacks.


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