Owner’s plea after guide dog attacked

PUBLISHED: 11:00 27 July 2015

Penny Gatter with her guide dog Milo.

Penny Gatter with her guide dog Milo.


A Budleigh guide dog owner is asking fellow pet owners to be careful after a terrifying incident where her dog was attacked.

Penny Gatter, 67, who has very limited vision, was walking on Budleigh seafront with her dog Milo, a four-year-old Labrador/retriever cross, when another dog approached them.

It attacked Milo, who due to his guide dog training and non-aggressive character did not attempt to defend himself.

Penny, who lives in Moormead, said: “The dog just went at Milo. Guide dogs never retaliate. When Milo was attacked he stood right next to me and never moved, and this dog was just lunging at him.”

Fortunately, Milo’s injuries in the attack were limited to bruising, but Penny, who used to keep rescue dogs before her eyesight deteriorated, feared that he may not be able to work as her guide dog anymore due to the shock, although he seems to be making a recovery.

She said: “They sometimes have to retire or be retrained.

“That dog is my reason to get out of bed in the morning. He’s my life. I’ve had him two years and seven months, and he has changed my life.

“To think I might have lost him if he was scared… I couldn’t.”

Following her ordeal, Penny is urging fellow dog owners to make sure they keep their pets on a short leads when they see a guide dog pass.

She said: “I would like all dog owners to become aware of the consequences of failing to keep their dogs under control.

“When they are in a public place their dogs should be on a lead and when a dog owner sees a guide dog approaching they should keep their dog close to them.”

Penny added that she would like to thank a man called Dave, who helped her and Milo after the attack, as she was too shocked to thank him at the time.

The incident, which happened on July 10, has been reported to the police, and PCSO Chantalle Major said she would be looking to deal with the matter through community resolution.

Karen Price, of the Guide Dogs charity, said: “It is a tragedy when a guide dog has to be retired following an attack.

“Each of our dogs provides a person who is blind or partially-sighted with their independence.

“It takes up to two years to train a guide dog, so if a dog has to be withdrawn, this represents a considerable waste of our resources which are provided entirely by the generosity of our supporters.

“My hope is that all dog owners will become more considerate as a result of our campaigning.”

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