DOGS have long been known as man’s best friend but now in the eyes of the law they will be treated that way too.
Changes brought in on May 15 mean owners whose dog attacks a guide dog could face up to three years in prison.
The news has been welcomed by the charity Guide Dogs as well as grandma Rosemary Wallworth whose dog Quip suffered a frightening attack last Sunday at Orford Park.
The 67-year-old, who was diagnosed with macular degeneration aged two, had taken her guide dog for a walk near the free running area when Quip was attacked by a brown/black whippet-sized dog and Rosemary was left with blood pouring out of her hand.
She added: “I was shaking and didn’t know what to do.
“It was an almighty fight and I tried to grab his collar when the other dog bit me.
“I was shouting and screaming ‘Get him off’ but the woman with the other dog did nothing.
“I could feel a wet patch on Quip’s side and didn’t know if it was blood so I took him straight to the vets where they checked him over and bandaged up my hand.”
Quip escaped the attack with a few bite marks while Rosemary was given antibiotics for a puncture wound.
Previously there would have been little police could do but after tougher sentences were brought in last month officers checked CCTV to track down the pet owner but unfortunately their view was obscured by trees.
Rosemary said police had been very helpful and if she finds out the name of the offending dog owner they will investigate again.
She added: “My advice to pet owners is to keep your distance if you see a guide dog and keep them on a lead if you know they’re naughty around other dogs.
“I’m terribly nervous about going out now after what happened but Quip seems to be fine at least.”
Penny Williams, from the charity Guide Dogs, added: “From a guide dogs perspective a lot gets put into training them to help make a difference to their owners’ lives and we hope more severe penalties will act as a deterrent.”