Attacks on guide dogs hit new high, says charity
Attacks on guide dogs by other dogs have reached a new high of more than eight a month, a charity has said.
Guide Dogs, which campaigns for blind and partially sighted people, said police should be able to treat an attack on an assistance dog "like an attack on a person".
It also called for the introduction of compulsory microchipping for all dogs.
The government is consulting on ways to tackle dangerous dogs and said microchipping was being considered.
The charity said attacks had risen consistently in recent years, and the latest figure was up from seven a month in September 2011.
Campaign manager David Cowdrey said: "An attack on any dog is frightening, but for a guide dog owner it is much worse.
"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."
He added: "Ultimately, we want [police] to be given the power to treat an attack on a guide dog or any other assistance dog like an attack on a person."
'Charging at us'
Jemma Brown, 23, whose guide dog Gus has been attacked six times, said one of the worst incidents occurred outside a coffee shop in Southampton.
"This dog came charging towards us. It pinned Gus to the floor and the dog's owners couldn't get the dog to let go, so they started punching it in the head.
"But they caught Gus a few times too and he was left concussed. He couldn't work for three weeks."
Ministers announced plans in April to crack down on dangerous dogs and a consultation on the proposals closes on 15 June.
A spokesman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs added: "Compulsory microchipping to help police and local authorities deal with problem dogs is one measure we are consulting on and in future it will be a criminal offence not to keep your dog under control on any private property."