23 October 2001

The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association appeals to the public to take care on firework night

A warning has been issued by the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association to alert the public to the dangers of frightening guide dogs on firework night.

It says: “Numerous guide dogs are so frightened by the noise they have to be sedated, which means they are unable to work for days at a time.

“Worse, some are even forced into early retirement because they become so nervous of any loud bangs or noises.”

The problem, it says, is not organised parties where fireworks are being used safely and in controlled ways, but where they are let off in the street.

That is what happened in an incident when Marjory Hughes from Middlesborough, was out walking with her former dog, Fillan.

She said: “If he heard a firework going off in the distance after he used to tremble and try to hide and pull on his lead. He was unable to work during these periods.

“As a totally blind person I am terrified even if I smell them in the air. I can’t give my dog the support and encouragement he requires if I am scared myself.”

In another case, guide dog, Warwick, had to be retired when a group of youths threw a firecracker close to him.

Owner, Derek Thorpe, said: “The decision that he should be retired was terribly upsetting. I was losing a best mate who had helped me socially and in my job.”