An event is taking place in Peterborough City Centre this weekend to raise awareness of laws aimed at protecting assistance dogs.
Representatives from Cambridgeshire Constabulary and the charity Guide Dogs will be speaking to people outside Peterborough Town Hall in Bridge Street from 10.30am until 3.30pm on Saturday (July 18) and inviting them to take part in a number of activities.
Visitors to the event will be able to meet and greet Guide Dog puppies in training and their handlers. They will also be able to take part in blindfolded activities such as a walk in the Guide Dogs sensory tunnel, navigate blindfolded (with a sighted guide) an everyday obstacle course, and have a go with some simulation specs. There will also be an opportunity to meet PC Barker, the police s mascot for the day.
Officers from the local police team will be on hand to offer guidance around the legislation and will be seeking views on City Centre policing matters.
Latest research shows an average of 10 Guide Dogs a month are being attacked*. Under the Dangerous Dogs Act owners could face three years in prison and a fine if their pet attacks a Guide Dog. It is an offence to let a dog be dangerously out of control anywhere, even in the owner s home.
Earlier this year a 44 year-old man from Peterborough was given a two year conditional discharge and told to pay compensation and costs of £550 following two attacks by his dog. The man is now not allowed to bring his dog into Peterborough City Centre and the animal must be on a lead and muzzled at all times when in a public place.
Superintendent Tony Ixer told Connect FM: “An attack on an assistance dog can have a devastating impact on both the animal and their owner. The trauma of the attack can often means the assistance dog is no longer able to continue in their role, resulting in a loss of independence for their owner.
“We take attacks of this kind very seriously. Owners need to take responsibility for their dogs and make sure they are under control at all times.
“This event provides the public with an opportunity to familiarise themselves with the law surrounding dangerous dogs as well as meeting local officers.
Helen Sismore, Guide Dogs Community Engagement officer covering East Anglia, told Connect FM: “It takes 18 months to train a guide dog with a lifetime cost of £50,000 with no government funding. Every hour, another person in the UK goes blind, and of the 380,000 people who are registered blind or partially sighted, 180,000 people never leave home alone.
“Guide Dogs makes it its mission to deliver a world class guide dog service as part of a range of mobility services, and works to break down barriers to ensure blind and partially sighted people can get out and about on their own terms. To run this event in partnership with Cambridge Constabulary allows both organisations to raise and educate the public regarding new legislation.”