Stephen Timms MP has supported Guide Dogs’ call to stop attacks on guide dogs, and attended a reception at the Houses of Parliament yesterday. The East Ham MP was amongst the 150 members of parliament that backed the charity's call.

New figures that were released on Monday, 11 June, showed attacks on guide dogs are at an all time high and now running at an average of eight a month. Guide Dogs held the reception to highlight the charity’s growing concern about attacks on guide dogs by other dogs and to ask MPs for their support.

The government is currently consulting compulsory microchipping but has said its preferred option is to microchip puppies only. Under this plan, it would take 10 to 15 years before all dogs are microchipped. Guide Dogs believes it would take too long to have an impact and wants to see the compulsory microchipping of all dogs within two years.

Guide Dogs sees the compulsory microchipping of all dogs as a vital first step towards reducing the number of attacks, but believes the Government should go further.

David Cowdrey, Guide Dogs' Campaigns 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. We welcome Stephen Timms’ support for our campaign, and ultimately we want the law changed so an attack on an assistance dog is treated as seriously as an attack on a person."

Speaking after the event, Mr Timms said: "I was worried to learn that one recent attack on a guide dog coming to the end of training has meant that that particular dog will never be able to become a guide dog - wasting two years of effort, and a £30,000 investment.  The Government needs to act on this."

Note to Editors

1) About The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association: The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association is a British charitable organisation founded in 1934. Guide Dogs provides independence and freedom to thousands of blind and partially sighted people across the UK through the provision of guide dogs, mobility and other rehabilitation services. It also campaigns passionately for the rights of those with visual impairments. Guide Dogs is working towards a society in which blind and partially sighted people enjoy the same freedom of movement as everyone else.

2) For more information about Guide Dogs and its microchipping campaign, contact Annabel Williams in the press office on 0118 983 0183 or annabel.williams@guidedogs.org.uk

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AuthorStephen Timms