CUTE puppies drew the attention of shoppers in Launceston's Brisbane Street Mall yesterday as Guide Dogs Tasmania took to the street with a very important message.
Guide Dogs Australia research revealed a third of guide dogs have been attacked while working with their handler in the past three years.
Eighty per cent had been distracted by other dogs while working, while 78 per cent were distracted by people.
Guide Dogs Tasmania's Kate Grady said the national statistics were consistent with what happened within the state.
She said the main issues faced by Tasmanian guide dog handlers were dogs off their leads distracting or tormenting guide dogs, uncontrolled dogs on their lead and people seeking the attention of guide dogs.
Pet dogs distracting guide dogs from their job can be a major safety concern, she said, and at least one dog in the state has been retired in the past year due to stress from distraction.
``What I tell people is that it's like a dog and their handler in the car, but the dog is driving and is text messaging . . . or if I was trying to do my physics test and you kept patting me on the head,'' she said.
``It can be really dangerous if handlers are trying to cross the road.''
She reminded people that dogs with coats or harnesses on were not to be patted or distracted.