THE body responsible for training and supplying guide dogs to blind and vision impaired people across NSW hopes a new campaign will reduce the number of attacks on guide dogs by other dogs.
Guide Dogs NSW launched its Take The Lead campaign last week, which aims to encourage owners to keep their dogs on a leash.
According to Guide Dogs NSW, one in two guide dogs in NSW have been attacked by another dog while guiding its handler.
"We're alarmed that so many guide dogs are being attacked by pet dogs and are appealing to dog owners to keep their pet dogs on leads when out and about," Guide Dogs NSW chief executive Dr Graeme White said.
"Guide dogs play a vital role in enabling people who are blind or vision impaired to get around independently. Attacks compromise this independence and can cause serious injury and trauma to both the handler and the guide dog.
"In rare serious cases, attacks can result in premature retirement of a guide dog, which costs more than $30,000 to train."
Dapto's Samantha Noonan has had her guide dog, Sheba, for seven months and encourages owners to keep their dogs on-leash.
Mrs Noonan said it was not just dog attacks that could put a handler at risk. "Sheba hasn't been attacked, but there was one instance where a dog came up to her and she thought she was playing around and she went to follow the dog, but unfortunately there was a crack in the pavement and I tripped over," she said.
"What we want people to do is to keep their dogs on a lead, and if they are walking past somebody with a guide dog just to let them know there is another dog in the area."