Source:  BBC News (Extract)
Posted:  February 10 2021

A woman has spoken of the “frightening and traumatic” moment a man tried to steal her guide dog while it was exercising off-lead.

Maisy McAdam and six-year-old Willow were in a secluded spot near Basingstoke on Wednesday when a man approached and asked to stroke her dog.

Ms McAdam, who is partially-sighted, said while the man was stroking Willow, he pulled a lead from his pocket.

She said she heard a click but was able to grab the dog’s collar in time.

University student Ms McAdam, 23, has relied on Willow, a Labrador-golden retriever cross, since 2016.

She said she had a “weird feeling” about the man, who approached her in a secluded spot.

“The man was crouching next to Willow when I heard a click,” she said.

“He had pulled out a lead, which I think he guessed I couldn’t see as I was carrying a long white cane.

“I asked him what he was doing and he seemed startled and jumped up and didn’t say anything.

“I don’t have any peripheral vision, so I couldn’t tell where he was or if he was near me.”

She said she was now nervous of going out alone and would, in future, walk with her partner.

Dog thefts have been on the rise since the start of the pandemic as demand for pets has soared, but charity Guide Dogs UK said it had never heard of anyone trying to steal a guide dog from its owner.

Tim Stafford, the charity’s director of canine affairs, said: “Our guide dog owners and the volunteers who look after our puppies regularly practice recall training, so their dogs can have fun, free time, off the lead, safely.

“In this case, Willow was right by Maisy’s side, allowing her to understand what was happening and intervene.”

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