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Heartbroken Claydon woman’s warning as guide dog attacked six times in Suffolk is forced to retire

PUBLISHED: 18:22 25 February 2018 | UPDATED: 10:32 26 February 2018

Guide dog Ally, who is being forced to retire. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Guide dog Ally, who is being forced to retire. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Archant

Meet Ally – a devoted guide dog who is being forced to retire early after she was attacked six times in Suffolk.

Carolyn Allum is devastated because her guide dog Ally is being forced to retire at just six years old - she has been attacked six times in recent years. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNCarolyn Allum is devastated because her guide dog Ally is being forced to retire at just six years old - she has been attacked six times in recent years. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Recently the young black Labrador has become the target of badly behaved dogs – and after one particularly brutal clash, she suffered a ripped ear and puncture wounds to her mouth.

Her owner Carolyn Allum, from Claydon, is registered blind and was left terrified during the latest incident in Ipswich town centre when another dog barked aggressively at the pair.

This time the usually docile Ally, who is only six years old, retaliated as a result of being traumatised by previous attacks.

As a result, a heartbroken Carolyn has taken the difficult step to retire Ally – and is issuing a stark warning to fellow dog owners, urging them to stay in control of their pets’ behaviour.

“Ally is a cracking guide dog, it is heartbreaking to see her retiring so early,” she said.

“I am beside myself with grief at losing her – she is my best friend.

Ally has started to act anti-socially around other dogs because of previous attacks on her. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNAlly has started to act anti-socially around other dogs because of previous attacks on her. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

“Dogs work in fight or flight mode, and what’s happening now is that Ally is fighting rather than running away.

“I can’t let that happen because it could risk both my safety and hers.”

Carolyn has found a new home for Ally, and although she is on the priority list to receive a new guide dog, it could take up to a year so she may have to rely on a cane.

“Ally is my lifeline, and I feel like my independence is being torn away from me,” she said.

“I travel a lot so it will have a huge impact.

“I feel like my confidence has been crushed and like I’ve taken a step backwards.

Black Labrador Ally is docile and well-trained. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNBlack Labrador Ally is docile and well-trained. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

“I want to speak out so dog owners realise what an impact badly behaved dogs can have.”

Helen Sismore from East Anglia Guide Dogs has been working alongside relevant Suffolk agencies, including police and crime commissioner Tim Passmore, to crack down on guide dog attacks.

She said: “This is an intolerable situation for people who are blind or partially sighted.

“We ask the public to ensure their dogs are properly socialised with other dogs and are under control at all times whether they are on or off lead.”

Mr Passmore added: “First of all I think these are utterly sickening attacks on this guide dog. Assistance dogs are a lifeline for their owners and play an integral part in their lives.

“I know most dog owners are quite respectful, but there are a minority who are selfish.

Guide dog Ally.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNGuide dog Ally. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

“The perpetrators need catching.”

Police are appealing for witnesses to the latest attack on Ally, which took place on Ipswich Cornhill in the afternoon of January 5.

To help, dial 101.

Guide dog attacks: The law

Various legislation exists relating to attacks on guide dogs.

Carolyn with her guide dog Ally.   Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNCarolyn with her guide dog Ally. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The Dangerous Dogs Act 2014 states that it is a criminal offence for a dog to attack a working guide dog – it was amended in May 2014 to go further and state the dog does not have to cause harm.

It is still classed as an attack if it lunges or growls aggressively, because the act is outlined as being against the person.

This is because under legislation, a blind or partially sighted person is considered to be a vulnerable adult.

Guide dogs cost £57,000 to train and maintain, and leading charities say they cannot have dogs that operate within ‘fight mode’, as Ally has started to in this case.

When this happens, the dog cannot be rehabilitated.

Charity leaders also say it is not a defence for owners to claim that they were not with the dog at the time of the attack.

Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNSuffolk Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Both the owner and the person who had the dog at the time can be prosecuted.

Carolyn has also written this hard-hitting poem, which she said sums up her feelings about the issue:

There is an empty space beside me

It’s the place where you should be

There is a tearing grief inside me

It’s a pain you cannot see

There is a silence in the shadows

Where there should be gentle snores

The kitchen floor is clean and bare

No prints from muddy paws

The kibble sack is empty

No counting ounce by ounce

A ball lies down the garden

It has bounced its final bounce

The toybox sits untouched now

The once plump bed is flat

No big brown eyes to gaze at me

No soft warm head to Pat

No call back from the whistle

No tinkle from the bell

No high-fives in the morning

No lovely doggy smell

No tatty bear dropped on the floor

Whose limbs have all been mended

No barking at the knocked-on door

This life for us has ended

In happier times you came to me

So keen and waggy-tailed

And as our bond grew strong and tight

Your devotion never failed

With you here right beside me

We pounded lane and street

Walking proud together

With four paws and my two feet

Together travelling far and wide

Discovering pastures new

The world became our playing field

A place for me and you

The first dog came to hurt you

Whilst in harness working hard

Your gentle heart was wounded

Your trusting soul was scarred

So bravely you recovered

And worked for me once more

But daemon dogs came back for you

Your silky fur they tore

Our partnership is ruined

Our confidence is gone

And though I have to do this

It feels so very wrong

I know I can’t protect you

Or give you what you need

So I am hanging up your harness

And taking off your lead.

My heart feels crushed and broken

These days are filled with pain

But sweet girl I am hoping

My loss will be your gain

You filled my life with colour

With memories we have made

For you with love and patience

The darker ones will fade

Think of me from time to time

When running on the sand

Remember how it felt for us

Your paw clutched in my hand

My Ally we have to say goodbye

It’s for you a brand-new start

Don’t forget how much I love you

And your place is in my heart.

There is an empty space beside me

It’s a place where you should be

There is a tearing grief inside me

But I had to set you free

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