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Owner of guide dog attacked six times backs new police training scheme

PUBLISHED: 07:30 07 February 2019

Carolyn Allum and Ally before she had to stop work due to repeated attacks Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Carolyn Allum and Ally before she had to stop work due to repeated attacks Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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Police in Suffolk are to receive specialist training on guide dog attacks in the first scheme of its kind in Britain.

Ally is one of two dogs attacked in Suffolk that are no longer in service, according to Guide Dogs UK  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNAlly is one of two dogs attacked in Suffolk that are no longer in service, according to Guide Dogs UK Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Police in Suffolk are to receive specialist training on guide dog attacks in the first scheme of its kind in Britain.

More than 1,000 Suffolk officers are to take part in the project thanks to a cash injection of nearly £10,000 from police and crime commissioner Tim Passmore.

News of the investment has delighted Carolyn Allum, from Claydon, whose guide dog Ally had to be retired early after repeated attacks.

“Over the last 12 months I’ve experienced the devastating consequences of these horrific attacks when my own beloved guide dog had to be withdrawn from service,” she said.

Carolyn with her guide dog Ally, who was attacked six times before she had to stop work as a guide dog Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNCarolyn with her guide dog Ally, who was attacked six times before she had to stop work as a guide dog Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

“The impact on my independence and emotional wellbeing has been overwhelming and I am hoping to once again experience the liberation and freedom these amazing dogs give.”

This new project – a partnership between Guide Dogs UK, Deafblind UK and the force’s learning and development team – could be rolled out nationally if the Suffolk pilot is successful.

As part of the initiative, video and online learning tools will be developed for the force.

These will help to build knowledge and understanding of the impact an attack on a guide dog has on someone with sight loss.

From left to right, Marc Lynch and Quasia, Carolyn Allum with Ally, Emma Free with Ivy, and Clare Burman with Saffron. Picture: JAMES FLETCHER PHOTOGRAPHY LTDFrom left to right, Marc Lynch and Quasia, Carolyn Allum with Ally, Emma Free with Ivy, and Clare Burman with Saffron. Picture: JAMES FLETCHER PHOTOGRAPHY LTD

Ms Allum added: “I am delighted with this latest development from Guide Dogs. In partnership with Deafblind UK and working closely with the Suffolk police development team I feel that this powerful learning tool will move the campaign for responsible dog ownership forward and a clear understanding of the legislation that protects our working dogs will be established.”

According to recent figures, there were 11 attacks on assistance dogs in 2018 – with some animals being attacked more than once.

And two dogs are now no longer able to work – costing more than £50,000, and a loss of six-and-a-half years’ service.

Guide Dogs UK successfully amended the Dangerous Dogs Act in 2014, changing it to say: “If a dog attacks an assistance dog, it is classed as an attack on the person.”

Carolyn with Ally Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNCarolyn with Ally Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Such an offence now carries a prison sentence of up to three years.

Mr Passmore said: “The incredible bond between the dogs and their owners never ceases to amaze me.

“The value of the independence given to their owners is quite frankly priceless.”

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