A CHARITY is calling on pet owners to be more aware after a number of incidents involving guide dogs in the town.

Joanne Birch, who was registered blind in 1991, said she fears if her guide dog Bironey is attacked again she will be too frightened to go outside.

The problem started when Bironey was attacked by another dog while Joanne was picking up her 11-year-old son William from Alderman Bolton Community Primary School before Christmas.

The attack left the Woolston mum house-bound for three days as Bironey could not go out due to injuries to her legs.

Since then Bironey has been much more wary of other dogs and owner Joanne has called for dog owners to be more aware of guide dogs.

The 42-year-old, who has less than 80 per cent vision, said: “The final straw was going to Asda in the Cockhedge Centre and a woman left her dog tied up in front of me going mental and blocking the entrance.

“If it wasn’t for two very kind women who guided me into the store I wouldn’t have been able to get through the entrance.

“People seem to think because of my age I’m not really blind but they need to be more aware and realise I need my dog to get around.

“There’s been two other incidents since the first attack where owners have let go of the leads and their dog has gone for mine.

“It’s going to get to the point where she’s scared of going out but I have to take my son to school and go shopping.”

Penny Williams, from the charity Guide Dogs, said guide dogs being distracted by others or attacked appears to be an increasing problem.

She added: “If people could be a bit more responsible and put their dogs on good quality leads and keep them away from a working guide dog when they see one so they’re not distracted it would make a big difference.”