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Deafblind Maidstone pensioner's misery 1 year after 'overweight' guide dog taken away

A deafblind pensioner says his life has come to a "dead stop" a year after his beloved guide dog was removed from his care.

The KM exclusively revealed last July that charity Guide Dogs for the Blind was to retake ownership of golden retriever Paddy over concerns it was getting too fat.

Disabled Derek Beal, from Allington, Maidstone, who has a rare genetic condition that left him totally blind and hard of hearing, said at the time he feared the loss of his companion of six years would lead to him becoming "a prisoner in his own house".

Derek Beal, of Odiham Drive, Allington, Maqidstone, and his former guide dog Paddy. Picture: Andy Payton
Derek Beal, of Odiham Drive, Allington, Maqidstone, and his former guide dog Paddy. Picture: Andy Payton

The 83-year-old was told he would be allowed to be visited by Paddy on a weekly basis, but revealed this week he has had no contact with his dog in the 12 months since.

Furthermore, he says that his age will count against him when trying to secure a new guide dog, claiming that the charity has decided in the past to assign them instead to younger people.

"I've now given up on trying to get a dog out of them - I was making myself ill just fighting them all the time," he said.

"They took the view that my chances of seeing a dog through its life are slim even though I've kept very good health."

The charity has tried to help him use a cane so he can continue to get out and about but Derek has found the adjustment difficult, having relied on a dog for the last three decades.

"My only way of getting out of the house now is when I can get someone to take me, so I'm stuck at home, it's as simple as that," he said.

"When they took my dog away it was like taking my legs off" - Derek Beal

"Life has come to a dead stop. For 30 years I was an active person, out two or three times a day.

"But when they took my dog away it was like taking my legs off, or like taking the wheels off the guy who needs a wheelchair."

A spokesman from the charity Guide Dogs said: “Removing a guide dog from its owner is not a decision that Guide Dogs takes lightly we understand how much Paddy meant to Mr Beal.

“Everyone who applies for a guide dog is assessed against their individual needs and circumstances and our suitability criteria.

"However we are very pleased to be supporting Mr Beal through our other services to ensure he is able to get out and about.”

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