A blind man has had his beloved guide dog of three years taken off him after being told his dog is too fat.
Roger Debman was ordered to put golden retriever Peter on a strict diet and exercise regime in a bid to tackle his weight gain after tipping the scales at 7st 7lbs (49.5kgs).
But even on a weight management diet, along with several walks a day, his guide pooch has been unable to shift the pounds quickly enough to meet the Guide Dogs’ optimum weight of 6st 3lbs (40kgs).
The ‘devastated’ 60-year-old has been forced to give five-year-old Peter up to foster care until the pooch loses the weight, something that charity Guide Dogs have admitted ‘could take a few months’.
Roger, who had two heart attacks and a stroke in 2008 that left him partially-sighted and registered blind, said he’s ‘disgusted’ by the decision, which he claims doesn’t take into account his or Peter’s welfare.
According to Roger, Peter ‘maintains his weight beautifully’, would be ‘too thin’ if he were to reach the charity’s optimum weight and claims his vet wants him at 7st 1lb (45kgs).
Roger Debman, 60, pictured his guide dog Peter, has had his beloved golden retriever of three years taken off him after being told his dog is too fat.
The now bereft dog owner, who claims to be ‘lost’ without loyal Peter by his side, says he’s forced to rely on his wife and neighbours to feel safe enough to go out.
Guide Dogs said that maintaining the health of the dogs was ‘absolutely paramount’ and because ‘unfortunately Peter was significantly overweight’, they had placed him with a fosterer until he was slimmer, upon which he would be returned to Roger.
Roger, from Liverpool, Merseyside, said: ‘It’s so b***** lonely here, it’s an absolute nightmare.
‘I’ve had two heart attacks and a stroke. From the stroke I was left partially sighted and also [had] a brain injury where I can’t deal with stress anymore.
‘When Guide Dogs come round they interrogate you like the secret police.
‘Peter is two inches taller than the national average [for golden retrievers].
‘If you don’t know the height, length and width of a dog, how can you know an optimum weight for one?
Even on a weight management diet, along with several walks a day, Peter (pictured) has been unable to shift the pounds quickly enough to meet the Guide Dogs’ optimum weight of 6st 3lbs (40kgs)
Roger Debman, pictured with his wife Debra Debman, 52, was ordered to put golden retriever Peter on a strict diet and exercise regime in a bid to tackle his weight gain after tipping the scales at 7st 7lbs (49.5kgs)
The letter from the Guide Dogs charity stating Peter was overweight and was going to be taken into temporary foster care until he lost weight
Five-year-old golden retriever guide dog Peter with black labrador Nevin, who passed away four months ago
The heartbroken owner said that Guide Dogs requested he take Peter for fortnightly weigh-ins so they can keep track of his weight.
Roger, who is still reeling from the loss of his previous guide dog Nevin who died four months ago, said despite increasing his exercise and monitoring his food intake Peter failed to reach the charity’s optimum weight.
When he missed the target, Roger received a phone call saying that Peter would be taken into temporary foster care, and on Friday, November 5, he was taken away.
Roger said: ‘I was told by phone they were taking him, they got me so stressed I had to pass the phone over to my wife.
‘I went and sat on the doorstep while she was talking to them. When I heard her hang up I came in and she was bawling her eyes out.
‘They turned up just after 11am on Friday and I’ve felt totally lost since. I hate to think what Peter’s going through.
Roger’s wife Debra Debman, a 52-year-old nurse said Guide Dog’s actions had ‘devastated’ them both.
‘Guide Dogs are supposed to be a caring organisation set up to help those with sight loss.
‘We have had constant issues with them almost from the beginning, however this latest pantomime has been the final straw for us and we feel we have to speak out to put a stop to constant pressure and bullying.
‘There needs to be some urgent training on how to deal with people who have acquired brain injuries as these people often have anxiety and cannot cope with stress.
‘Roger is one such person and I will no longer sit back and hear a 60-year-old man spoken to the way he has been.
A spokesperson for Guide Dogs told the MailOnline: ‘We hope to reunite Mr Debman and Peter soon as possible, and guide dogs are matched very carefully to people according their individual needs a lifestyles, so a partnership is bespoke and closely bonded as a result of several weeks of one to one training.
‘This means we wouldn’t have a replacement dog for Mr Debman while Peter is getting healthier, but it shows why putting his welfare at the front of our minds is vital for the long term success of this partnership, which will benefit Mr Debman and Peter.
‘In the meantime we’re also supporting Mr Debman in other ways, by giving him information and advice and by keeping him updated regularly on Peter’s progress’