A blind man has become one of the first in the UK to have his guide dog taken away from him after he was caught ‘punching it in the face 10 times’.
A witness reported him to the police after the "absolutely horrendous" incident in a public park.
The partially-sighted attacker and his partner were playing fetch with the guide dog and his other black labrador at around noon on July 9.
The man, from Blackburn, told one of the dogs to fetch the tennis ball, which was being thrown by his wife, and he told the other dog to stay but instead they both went to fetch the ball, witnesses said.
One onlooker said the man, who was wearing sunglasses, started shouting abuse at the guide dog before hitting it in the face with his fist ‘at least 10 times’ and dragging the dog into the back of his car.
The incident was later reported to the police, RSPCA and Guide Dogs For The Blind Association, which trains and places guide dogs with clients.
A 59-year-old man, who walks his dog in the park twice a day, said he was in shock when he saw the incident unfold.
He said: "I couldn’t believe what I saw.
"It was absolutely horrendous.
"It would have to be horrendous to have to remove a guide dog from an owner.
"There were four or five people just standing there not knowing what to do. It was truly shocking.
"I went over and explained to the man I would phone the police and RSPCA and he just put two fingers up at me.
"In hindsight I should have taken the dog and driven it to the police station myself or videoed him doing it and showing to the police as evidence."
Since the incident members of Guide Dogs and the RSPCA have taken action against the man and removed the guide dog.
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It is thought the man has kept his other black labrador.
A spokesman for the guide dogs charity said: "We take the health and welfare of our dogs extremely seriously and can confirm following a thorough investigation we have permanently removed a guide dog from Blackburn.
"We cannot comment any further for reasons of client confidentiality."
An RSPCA spokesman added: "We are aware of this. Unfortunately we are unable to discuss complaints about specific people and what action may have been taken.
"We understand how frustrating that is for animal lovers but releasing information could prejudice a future prosecution or could lead to us being fined.
"We are so grateful to people who report suspected animal suffering to us and we would like to reassure people we will always look into any complaints made to us about animal welfare."
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