A GUIDE dog puppy who was attacked in the town centre just weeks before finishing her training will never get to work for the blind.

Grace was guiding her trainer, Philippa Davidson, through The Parade in March when a Staffordshire Bull Terrier type dog bit her and held on for about 20 seconds.

Philippa tried desperately to rebuild Grace’s confidence and get her to complete her training, but Grace had developed severe anxiety around other dogs that meant she could not safely guide a blind person.

Philippa, who has worked for Guide Dogs for nearly 30 years, said: “Instead of training her for just another three weeks, we ended up working her for another 10. “We did all we could to try to rehabilitate her, taking things slowly.

“Initially she didn’t want to go into any town centres. I gradually introduced her to them again, but every time she saw a dog she was trying to avoid it and go into shops rather than walking past it.

“The final straw was when she was out with my manager and there was a pup which was a similar size and colour to the one she was attacked by. “She bolted from the scene screaming and when my boss went after her and got her back she was showing signs of stress and anxiety.

“It came to a point where we knew that there was no further improvement and the improvement we had got was not enough for her to be a guide dog for somebody.”

Grace was walking past the Staffordshire Bull Terrier type dog, which was on a lead, on March 27 when it bit her and held on. Philippa tried to get the dog off Grace and let go of her harness.

After the dog released its grip, Grace ran towards Fleming Way and was caught by passers-by.

Grace, who suffered puncture wounds as well as bruising and grazes to her neck and face, has now been rehomed near Stratford-upon-Avon.

She was 19-months old at the time of the attack and was three weeks away from finishing a lifetime of breeding and training at a cost of £33,000 to Guide Dogs.

“She’s happy and she will have a good life but she was bred and trained to be somebody’s guide dog. That hasn’t been able to continue,” said Philippa.

The attack occurred only two weeks after an attack on another guide dog which took place near the Link Centre.

David Cowdrey, campaigns manager for Guide Dogs, said: “An attack on any dog is frightening, but for a guide dog owner it is much worse. With more than eight reported attacks on guide dogs a month, the trauma caused by these unprovoked attacks could leave a blind or partially sighted person a virtual prisoner in their own home.

“As well as physical injuries, each dog attack leaves a deep psychological scar for both the owner and the guide dog. In the worst cases guide dogs have to be retired early; in others they are left unable to work for a significant amount of time.

“Ultimately we want the police to be given the power to treat an attack on a guide dog or any other assistance dog like an attack on a person.”