Saffron Walden residents urged to keep paths clear of broken glass to aid guide dogs

Mark Pivac, with guide dog Hero and Alan Ambrose holding some of the broken glass found on the stree

Mark Pivac, with guide dog Hero and Alan Ambrose holding some of the broken glass found on the street - Credit: Archant

A Saffron Walden guide dog owner has urged residents in the town to be watchful of street debris after broken glass was found strewn along the pavement in Station Road last week.

Mark Pivac, 55, of Old Mill Road, has been blind since the age of 18 and two of his former guide dogs were both injured by broken glass on pavements. Mr Pivac, who travels to London to work as a journalist for the BBC World Service said: “One of my previous dogs, Laddie, suffered a very nasty cut on his right front paw and was out of action for a week, which in turn meant that I had to have a week off work.

“Street debris, like glass and litter are real hazards and distractions to guide dogs and that impacts on safety.”

Alan Ambrose, 80, who volunteers at the Saffron Walden branch of Guide Dogs for the Blind, swept up the glass after being alerted by Mr Pivac.

He said: “The glass was all over the pavement, and people really don’t realise the impact this can have on blind people with guide dogs.

“The glass had been there quite a while and there was a lot of it. When I got home, I weighed it and had collected 254 grams.”

Mr Pivac has had his new dog, Hero, for two weeks and is currently working with dog instructor Norman McIver, who has spent the best part of two years training Hero for his assignment.

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Mr McIver said: “What people don’t realise is that injuries to the dogs can have a knock-on effect. The dog may no longer want to go a certain route due to fear of repeating the injury and if the route is well-used, it then becomes a problem for the owner.”

Mr Pivac said he hoped to raise further awareness of the issue and that people would act if they saw hazards or obstacles in the street.

“If they are able to pick it up, I would urge them to be good citzens and do a good deed for the day. If they cannot, then the best thing to do would be notify the council. The glass had been lying here for over a week, and it was only down to Alan’s kindness that it got cleared up.”

The charity, Guide Dogs for the Blind, are currently running a campaign called Streets Ahead, which is aiming to tackle some of the most frequent barriers to accesible streets, such as parking on pavements, street clutter and shared surfaces.

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