Help the blind
LOCAL guide dog owners are asking people to please refrain from patting guide dogs as it distracts them from their job and can cause them to become disorientated.
In conjunction with Guide Dog Week, Guide Dogs NSW/ACT announced the start of a new education campaign yesterday in response to research that found 88 per cent of guide dog users have had their dog distracted or even attacked by dogs who are not on leads.
Goonellabah resident Anne Hampton has experienced first hand what it is like to have her two-year-old guide dog Glenn distracted.
“When I take my dog out he needs to focus on his work and if there is any distraction like someone patting him he changes his focus,” Ms Hampton said.
“Sometimes it can take a while to settle him down. It’s important if people are around for them to talk to me, and to not take any notice of the dog at all.
“I find if the other person has a dog, it’s better if the person walks past me and keeps a distance between my dog and theirs.”
Guide dogs like Glenn, when distracted, can lose track of their travel route and find it difficult to continue leading their owner.
Guide Dogs NSW/ACT aims to create awareness in the community about the consequences for blind people when people distract their guide dogs.
“The person using a guide dog is trying tofocus on landmarks to get from point A to B and if the dog gets all bailed up, they have to refocus, find another landmark and start again,” Guide Dogs NSW/ACT cli-ent services instructor Rowan Kimberg said.
“Our campaign will educate the public about the specific needs of people who use guide dogs.”