Activist Believes Guide Dogs Should Be Abolished Because They Can't Consent

Nov 18 | 3K sharesMichelle Hambiliki

Whoever coined the phrase dogs are "man's best friend" really hit the nail on the head when it comes to describing the close and affectionate relationships many of us have with our pooches. I'm pretty sure each and every one of us knows at least one person who loves dogs more than people and no wonder - they're adorable, fun and incredibly loyal.

Dogs make terrific companions in every sense of the word. And as a society, we have embraced their ability to perform jobs which benefit us. From sheepdogs herding farm animals to sniffer dogs being tasked with the responsibility of identifying bombs, we know that dogs are smart enough to assist us in ensuring our world runs as efficiently as possible.

alt Credit: America’s VetDogs and Guide Dog Foundation / Rebecca Eden

However, one animal activist by the name of Wendy Turner-Webster has adopted a rather controversial stance against using dogs to provide invaluable services. Why? Because they are not able to give their consent. Turner-Webster believes the "welfare" of these dogs is not taken into consideration as they "aren't capable of consenting to do the work."

She appeared on Good Morning Britain opposite hosts Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid and went into detail about her unusual views:

"The welfare issues are probably two-fold; the first is that they are bred specifically for the program, and the 25 percent of them that don't make the grade have to be rehomed," she said. "They're going into a system which is already bursting full of dogs that need to find a new home."

Turner-Webster also pointed out that those in need of guide dogs may not be able to care for the dog for the rest of its life, saying, "The other thing is the concern as to what happens when the dog retires; not every guide dog owner can keep that dog. It's the whole welfare issue around it. We need new technology."

alt Credit: Good Morning Britain / ITV

Unsurprisingly, many people were upset by her controversial opinions and highlighted the fact that dogs trained to be guide dogs are usually loved and well cared for as well as highly trained. In response, Piers Morgan asked Turner-Webster if she indeed had received some form of consent in order to teach her own dog simple tricks like "sit".

"I know when I'm putting my animal, or any animal, in a potentially dangerous or vulnerable situation," she replied.

Since publicizing her views, Turner-Webster has received a great deal of backlash from the general public. Even companies, such as Project O.D.I.N, which work on alternative forms of assistance for the visually impaired, were appalled by her views.

alt Credit: Good Morning Britain / ITV

Project O.D.I.N. is a navigation system that was designed for people with visual impairments and is a form of technology believed to be able to replace guide dogs in the future.

In response to the activist's divisive views, they tweeted, "Even ODIN is not able to replace the amazing work that the dogs do in keeping members of the visually impaired community safe and the dogs receive love and care in return! Thank you to our four-legged friends."

Other arguments supporting the use of guide dogs revolve around the fact that there is a psychological benefit to having a dog rather than a piece of technology as an aid.

"It doesn't matter whether there's a technical replacement," one Twitter user wrote. "Guide dogs have a good stimulating life with someone who appreciates them. It is good for the dog & the person they help & [they] both get emotional benefit - it's not simply about the dog doing work & whether that can be replaced."

alt Credit: Good Morning Britain / ITV

Another Twitter user highlighted the fact that guide dogs improve the quality of their owner's life, writing, "Not to be rude but this is seriously stupid. The animal welfare campaigner should go and sit in the house of a guide dog and see the love, affection, and gratitude that is given to these dogs every day by their owners. They are probably the most important thing in the owner's life."

Well, it appears that most people do not support Turner-Webster's theory at all. What do you think? Is it right for guide dogs to continue doing the work they do?