27/04/2016 10:14 AM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:52 PM AEST

If Guide Dogs Could Talk, They'd Say 'Respect My Uniform'


Surely we all know by now that you're not allowed to pat a guide dog while its working, not to mention feed it, call out and take photos.

Yet Guide Dogs NSW/ACT chief executive Graeme White said a 2015 study found 89 per cent of guide dog handlers reported their dog had been distracted by a stranger in the past 12 months.

“If 89 per cent of taxi drivers were distracted while driving, there would be national outrage,” White said.

“Any distraction to a working guide dog can put its handler’s safety at risk. If a Guide Dog is distracted while guiding its handler across the road, the consequences could be tragic."

As part of new campaign 'Respect my uniform', guide dog user and singer Matt McLaren is letting people know why it's dangerous to distract his dog Stamford.

Musician Matt McLaren's guide dog Stamford gets interrupted all the time.

“Stamford enables me to do so much more than I could with a cane, such as carry music gear and travel confidently to new places,” McLaren said.

“People will try to talk to Stamford while I am walking, make clicking noises, pat him while I move past them and try to make eye contact with him."

He said they'd often say 'I know I shouldn’t be doing this’ while patting the dog.

“It’s like a person on a diet saying ‘I know I shouldn’t eat this piece of chocolate cake’ but then going ahead and eating it anyway,” McLaren said.

“The problem is people often don’t perceive the consequences of their actions.”

Most recently, he collided with a staircase because Stamford was distracted.

You can make the pledge to leave working guide dogs distraction free here.