Disabled man ‘forced to give up guide dog’ due to rule he didn’t know existed the Mirror
Roger Debman, 57, from Liverpool, said he is “absolutely gutted” after a neighbour reported him for walking two pets at once, including his assistance dog
A partially sighted man says he has been forced to make the heartbreaking decision to give up his guide dog – because of a rule he had no idea existed.
Roger Debman, 57, says he has been told he cannot walk guide dog Peter at the same time as his first guide dog, Nevin, who retired this year but still lives with him as a pet.
He lost his sight in 2008 after having two heart attacks and a stroke.
As a result he lost some of his independence and confidence, and was left needing the help of a guide dog when going out alone.
He was given his first guide dog 10 years ago, but when Nevin retired this year, he was provided with a second dog, Peter, by Guide Dogs UK .
As part of his morning routine, Roger takes both dogs down to the park on their leads for a walk.
He has done this since he received the dogs, so he was shocked to be notified by Guide Dogs UK that he had been reported.
He said: “I was told that I had been reported by someone off the estate for taking two dogs out at the same time.
“I was then told by Guide Dogs UK that if I go out with Peter he has to go out in his harness at all times, and that I can only walk one dog at a time due to insurance.”
However, Roger claims this was the first time he had been told about this.
He added: “I have never heard of the rule, so how can I break it?”
Roger claims he was also told that if he goes out with Nevin, who is now retired, he has to take out his white stick – which is something he wouldn’t normally feel the need to do.
Mr Debman added: “I’ve now been walking them separately and the one who has been left at home is crying.
“I’m not prepared to put them through the stress.
“It’s not feasible for me to walk them separately due to health conditions, it can put stress on my heart.”
He said he has now decided to give Peter back to Guide Dogs UK and claims it has been “gutting” for him.
He said: “I will no longer be able to visit my family on my own, some of which are in Ipswich, Peterborough and Cardiff as I don’t have the confidence to do this on my own.
“The confidence had been given to me by these wonderful animals but this has now been taken away from me.
“This means I will be stuck in four walls most of the time, and it will take away my freedom. I feel absolutely gutted.”
Roger’s wife of eight years, Debra Debman, who is a nurse at the Royal Liverpool Hospital, claims this is only the second time she has seen Roger “break down”.
The 51-year-old said: “Giving Peter away is going to destroy Nevin as they are really close, as well as Roger.
“I don’t even like to think about what would happen.
Giving Peter away means that Roger will only be able to travel with me, which means all my holidays from work will be used visiting family and friends.”
Guide Dogs UK said: “Our working guide dogs wear a white harness to enable them to safely guide their owner, helping them get out and about and do the same things as everyone else.
“Without this white harness on, our guide dogs are unable to safely guide someone with sight loss.”