Assistance dog attacked on Tarka Trail

Wendy Hilling and Ted.

Wendy Hilling and Ted. - Credit: Archant

‘Unprovoked’ attack leaves disabled woman from Yelland scared and shaken.

A disabled woman has been badly shaken after her assistance dog was attacked without warning on the Tarka Trail.

Wendy Hilling and her golden retriever Edward were taking their regular morning walk at Fremington Quay when another dog rushed in and bit Edward on the leg.

Wendy, 64, suffers from a rare skin condition and relies heavily on her dog provided by the charity Canine Partners and affectionately known as ‘Ted’, for help with all manner of day-to-day activities – he has even saved her life.

The pair from Yelland can often be seen with Ted trotting alongside Wendy’s mobility scooter, but the attack on Monday, August 12 was terrifying for both.


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“It was busy and a dog came up behind me and grabbed Ted’s leg in its mouth. It was a terrible noise, just a mass of growling,” said Wendy.

“We scared the dog away and the owner caught it and walked off without speaking. Thank you to the man who kindly stopped after he saw the attack. I really appreciated it.”

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She said the attacker was a large reddish coloured dog with short hair and had been with a woman of about 40.

Fortunately the bite did not break the skin and the incident has been reported to the police and dog warden.

Wendy feared at first it would put Ted off from working, as he is highly trained. He can do everything from taking washing out of the machine, to using a cash point and even waking Wendy or her husband Peter if her breathing starts to deteriorate.

“I felt this awful guilt that I couldn’t protect him,” she said.

“But Ted is fine; he still plays with his friends and thankfully shows no signs of fear. I just think all dog owners should be more respectful to others and they shouldn’t let a dog loose if it has an uncertain temperament.”

David Bailey, operations director at Canine Partners, said it was thankfully extremely rare for a Canine Partners dog to be attacked.

“This would be a frightening experience for any dog owner, but for a person who needs the daily help of one of our dogs it could have longer lasting effects, perhaps leading to a loss of confidence or a fear of interacting with other dogs,” he added.

“We are obviously relieved Wendy and Ted were not harmed.”

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