Maisy McAdam was out alone with Willow when the man approached (Pictures: instagram/Maisy McAdam)
A dognapper tried to steal a guide dog from a blind student while she was out walking alone with a white stick.
Maisy McAdam, 23, was exercising with Willow, a six-year-old Labrador-golden retriever cross, in a nature reserve in Hampshire last week.
She had let Willow off her lead when a man approached and started asking her questions about the dog.
Thinking Maisy was unable to see what he was doing, he slipped his own lead from his pocket and brazenly tried attaching it to Willow’s collar.
But the student, who is partially sighted, heard the click of the lead and immediately asked what he was doing, causing the man to flee.
She went to call her mum, but got worried because she does not have peripheral vision and had no idea where the man was or if he might come back and try again.
Maisy quickly walked to her partner’s house while talking on the phone to her instructor at Guide Dogs for support.
Willow allows Maisy to lead an independent life (Picture: instagram/Maisy McAdam)
The student reported the incident to police and is still shaken up by it all.
She told the Mirror: ‘I feel sick about what could have happened. I’m worried that as Willow is so friendly with people that she won’t have realised until it was too late.’
The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association said the attempted theft of a partially sighted person’s dog, which they use to navigate roads safely, ‘beggars belief’ and backed calls for tougher sentences for those stealing dogs.
Tim Stafford , director of canine affairs, added: ‘It was obvious that Maisy was visually impaired – that shows the kind of people are about who will take dogs.’
The pair were carefully matched after years of specialist training (Picture: instagram/Maisy McAdam)
Maisy said that she is ‘now quite nervous of going out on my own’ and will probably only venture out with her partner accompanying them.
Willow allows her to lead an independent life and the pair were carefully matched by Guide Dogs after years of specialist training.
Maisy said of her: ‘She’s given me so much confidence, not only to travel around by myself but to meet new people and speak up for myself.’
Hampshire Police said they received reports of the attempted theft last Wednesday.
It comes as the RSPCA warned of a ‘worrying’ rise in reports of attacks on lone dog walkers.
The value of certain breeds has skyrocketed as demand soared during lockdown.
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