Blind Pensioner's Guide Dog Being Taken Away Over Concerns For His Weight
Eighty-two-year-old pensioner Derek Beal, who's blind and hard of hearing, is having his guide dog Paddy taken away from him because the dog has apparently become 'too fat'.
That's the reasoning behind Guide Dogs For The Blind's decision - who think the eight-year dog is being overfed because Derek can't see what he's eating.
Derek claims that Paddy's extra weight is because of passers-by giving him treats and that he's only 'slightly' overweight.
"They are insisting on removing the dog because he's overweight,"said Derek, a former caering manager from Maidstone in Kent. "But I brought him to the vet and she said he's slightly overweight - otherwise he's in excellent physical condition.
"They've offered me no help to get around and no replacement if they take him away. I'm blind and nearly deaf - it's brutal."
Derek suffers from a rare genetic disorder called Usher Syndrome, and began to lose his sight 20 years ago as a result. His wife passed away 15 years ago and he has lived by himself ever since/
"My son is my only living relative and he works away a lot so is seldom here - and he needs to work like everyone else.
"I'll be a prisoner in my own home. The dog is paramount to my whole life, to getting around. I won't even be able to get out the front door.
"If you take away someone's wheelchair, they won't be able to walk. They are taking my life away."
Derek has had Paddy by his side as a guide dog for six years and isn't sure when his last day with the pup is going to be.
"He's a chum, a wonderful companion, and he's a part of me," said Derek. "Paddy is a working dog but he's more than that, he's a constant companion. I'm in a state. I really feel desperate."
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Derek is exploring as many avenues as possible in an attempt to be able to keep Paddy as his faithful friend.
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"I've spoken to the local manager at Guide Dogs and he said he will speak to me but I'm waiting for my son to come back for some support," he said.
"I'm not able to fight this by myself. They're going to take my dog away and are offering me nothing to replace him.
"I've contacted RNIB, they said they would get back to me but haven't. It's really terrible. I'm refusing to let them have him.
"Paddy has been with me for six years and we're both still going strong. I think it's because of my age but age is only a number. I'm not quite able to run anymore but I'm well able to get around and I've still got my marbles.
"I can't believe Guide Dogs is doing this- I've worked with them for 30 years, I've done volunteer work and I'm a registered speaker.
"If they just gave me a month to get the weight off I'll do it but they still said they won't be bringing him back and will give him to someone else.
"My future is pretty bleak."
While Guide Dogs For The Blind said it can't comment on individual cases, it did admit to having to make a 'very difficult decision to temporarily remove a guide dog from its owner in Maidstone' but wouldn't say if the decision was in relation to concerns about the dog's weight.
"Sometimes, for various reasons, Guide Dogs is forced to remove a guide dog from its owner's care," the charity said in a statement. "It is not uncommon for the guide dog owner to approach the media if they feel the decision is unfair.
"We understand that having a guide dog removed is very difficult for an owner and we go through a long process before we take this decision, which we only make after exhausting all other options.
"Removals can be in the interests of the dog or to support the client. We cannot comment any further for reasons of client confidentiality."
Featured Image Credit: SWNS