8th Dec, 2016

EXCLUSIVE: Vicious attack on Coventry guide dog leaves blind owner housebound

Coventry Editorial 11th Aug, 2016 Updated: 28th Oct, 2016

A BLIND Coventry woman says she is afraid to leave her house after her guide dog suffered a horrific, unprovoked attack by another dog in the city centre.

Charlotte Nickson and her guide dog, Layla, were walking from Wilkinson’s to Sainsbury’s on Trinity Street on Sunday afternoon (August 7) when another dog lunged at Layla’s face.

Charlotte, who is registered visually impaired, felt Layla push her back – doing her best to protect her owner from the other dog.

“The dog had locked on and was pulling on Layla’s face,” Charlotte told the Observer.

“I had hold of the lead but the harness handle was pulled out my hand.

“A man was pulling on the other dog which tore the lead out my hand.”

“It took what felt like ages to get the other dog off Layla, even though it was probably only five minutes.”

“It was the worst experience of my life.

“I could hear Layla cry and I was powerless to help her.

“All I could do was shout for help.”

An unknown female passerby rushed to Charlotte’s aid and the police were called to the scene.

Charlotte eventually managed to catch Layla after she had run scared from the scene, only for the dog to lie down by her side, shaking – a sign of shock.

Luckily Layla only suffered some grazes and scratches – her Guide Dog harness protecting her from sustaining worse injuries.

Now, Charlotte says Layla has ‘lost confidence’ since the attack and said she is scared to venture into Coventry city centre again for fear of another attack.

But she hopes this horrific attack will serve as a lesson to Coventry dog owners about the importance of responsible dog ownership, particularly around guide dogs.

She explained: “People often let their dogs run loose or on so-called ‘flex’ or extendable leads which gives their humans no control so if a dog gets upset by something its too late.

“Many dog owners do not put muzzles on their dog when they are out, which they should do if there is any risk at all for anyone’s safety.

“And a lot of people do not know if their dog is scared of high vis – one of the top reasons why dogs attack guide dogs.

“Believe me, the worst sound in the world is the cries of pain from your best friend and being unable to do anything.

“But, sadly, attacks like this happen to a lot of guide dogs.

“We need to educate people on the risks of attacks and how they affect guide dogs.”

A spokesperson from West Midlands Police has said the dog responsible for the attack has been seized and an investigation has been launched.

Robert Jinks, Community Engagement Officer at Guide Dogs UK, said the the charity would do all it can to suporrt Charlotte.

“There are, on average, 11 attacks on guide dogs each month and nearly all of them are in public areas.

“We are encouraging the public to be aware of their dogs and be mindful of guide dogs.

“After all, a guide dog is an aid for a visually impaired person, and an attack on the dog is really an attack on that person’s mobility and ability to live their life.”