Aug 10 2012 by Stuart Wilson, Ayrshire Post (main ed)
A TERRIFIED blind man has been left without his guide dog – after it was savaged in the street.
Helpless Edmund Dunlop listened in horror as his trusty friend, Irenie, was attacked more than 30 times in less than a year.
Now he could become a prisoner in his own home unless charity chiefs can match him with a new canine pal.
Edmund, of Prestwick, has been told that e could have a wait of up to three years for another dog.
But guide bosses were forced to retire Irenie after she became a constant target for fellow pets.
Edmund revealed: “I’m totally lost without her and don’t know what I’ll do.
“She was far more than a guide dog – she acted as my companion, friend and my security.
“But from the first moment I got her, it was clear she was coming under attack from other dogs.
“Within 15 minutes of going on our first walk, she was attacked by a dog on a flexi-lead in Ayr town centre.
“The attacks just kept coming and eventually we started to fear for her mental condition, which meant she had to be retired before she was even three years old.
Irenie was the sixth dog to accompany Edmund during his lifetime.
He has been blind since the age of four, when he suffered a brain tumour which doctors said would end his life within two years.
But Edmund, now 55, is still going strong and hopes his independence has not been stolen by the actions of other animals.
He said: “I tried walking to the shops without Irenie the other day and it was a horrible experience.
“When I got to the pharmacy, they refused to let me leave without taking me home – they were very kind.
“But that is what my life would be like without a guide dog. I couldn’t get by without one.”
Angry guide dog chiefs admit they are having to retiring more and more of their team due to attacks.
Terry Thorpe, guide dogs mobility team manager, said: ‘Out of control dogs cause a problem for everyone, but the effect on a guide dog and its owner can be devastating.
“We would urge people to think about that when out in public with their dogs and keep them properly under control.
“It is really difficult for guide dog owners to report dog attacks.
“Since they have very limited, or no vision, they are unable to give a description of the dog or its owner.”
The cost of a new dog from birth to retirement – including training and support – is a whopping £50,000.
And that means Edmund faces a nervous wait for his next pal.
South Ayrshire Council’s depute leader, John McDowall, added: “Guide dogs carry out a very important role in our communities, they empower many people to lead a full and active life which they may not be able to do without their guide dog.
“The majority of dog owners are responsible people who realise the importance of guide dog training.
“I would encourage anyone who sees an attack by a dog on any other dog, including guide dogs, to report the matter to us by calling 0300 123 0900.”