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Guide dog withdrawn after Staffie attack

By Mid Devon Gazette  |  Posted: December 08, 2013

Tilly and Gwyn set off on their charity walk from Tiverton's Grand Western Canal last August

Tilly and Gwyn set off on their charity walk from Tiverton's Grand Western Canal last August

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A partially-sighted woman whose guide dog has been retired after a vicious attack has described the incident which “stripped her of her independence”.

Tilly Trotter, 80, was walking with Gwyn, a small German shepherd dog, near her home when the Staffordshire bull terrier cross jumped out of an open window and onto the guide dog’s back.

Mrs Trotter, from Uffculme, released her pet’s harness, as she had been trained to do in such an incident, so Gwyn could escape, but the attack continued, and the four-year-old guide dog suffered serious bite injuries to her legs and chest.

During the incident Mrs Trotter, who only has a small amount of peripheral vision, was stranded and frightened for her animal. Eventually the attack ended and she was able to call for help. Gwyn was taken to a vet and bandaged. Although she is making a good recovery from the physical effects of the attack, which occurred five weeks ago, she was so traumatised by the incident that the charity Guide Dogs has had to withdraw her from service.

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Mrs Trotter, who is well known for her fundraising and awareness work for Guide Dogs, says that without Gwyn she is reliant upon others to take her out. It also represents a major loss for the charity, which spends £50,000 training each animal.

“When you have to live without a guide dog after having them for many years, you realise just how wonderful they are,” said Mrs Trotter, who was in Coldharbour Lane, Uffculme, when the attack happened.

“The dog just launched itself out of a window and landed on Gwyn’s back, I released her but because she had the harness on she couldn’t get away. The noise was horrific and it’s still with me. Because guide dogs are trained to be passive she had no chance.”

Mrs Trotter tried to get Gwyn working again, even buying a special Norwegian racing harness which she thought might be gentler on her injured chest, but because the incident happened so close to home it became clear that she would have to be re-homed.

“She will make someone a marvellous pet, she is such a gentle dog and so good with children, but she will never work as a guide dog again and must be given a new start in a different area,” said Mrs Trotter.

“Having a guide dog meant I could walk all around my village and I would go to Taunton on shopping trips. I have been stripped of my independence.”

Police spoke to the owner of the dog which attacked Gwyn but cannot take any further action. The Gazette understands that the dog had recently been placed in the home by a rescue charity.

Mrs Trotter, who with Gwyn hiked 78 kilometres for Guide Dogs to celebrate her 78th birthday, hopes to be allocated with another guide dog, and paid tribute to the charity and its volunteers.

“There are many people out there who look after the puppies, and are prepared to have their lives disrupted and slippers eaten so people like me can have their independence,” she said.

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  • LTaylor12  |  December 10 2013, 9:46AM

    Its such a shame that dog attacks are becoming more and more heard of. It's even more tragic when its a guide dog that is attacked and the knock on consequences of this. What happed to the dog/owner that were responsible?!

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