Blind man and guide dog attacked by two dogs

- You don't have to look too far to find Richard Draper's trusty guide dog.

"From the time in the morning to the time I go to bed this dog is by my side," he said.

Richard is legally blind. He can make out a few shadows in the light, but Andie helps him get around.

"I have had her for two and a half years.  She is like my left hand," Richard said.

The two do everything together, including a two-mile walk. It is a daily routine, but last week was almost their last.

As Richard and Andie were on their daily walk, they rounded a corner off of Southern Parkway and were confronted by two dogs.

"I just remember a flash," Draper said.

Richard described the dogs as pit bulls. He said one grabbed Andie's neck and wouldn't let go.

"When that dog was attacking, it was like somebody ripping my eyes out," he said.

Richard said the second dog latched onto his leg and down they went.

"The next thing I know I'm on the ground. I'm screaming for help," he recalled.

Another man who was walking his dog ran over and got the two dogs off of Richard and Andie.

"All  I was thinking was she could maybe not make it. She could be dead," he said.

Andie had visible puncture wounds, but another concern arose: Andie was trained by the Southeastern Guide Dogs.  The organization spends thousands of dollars and manpower to train their dogs. An attack like this could hinder their work.

"They can chose not to work. They can connect the two events as a negative and then tell the owner that working is not something they will continue to do. That will ruin somebody's life in a second," said Suzy Wilburn, director of admissions and graduate services.

Suzy said Andie wagged her tail when she saw her harness. That was a good sign.

"All of the signs are pointing to the positive for Andie, which is lucky. Sometimes it doesn't happen that way," said Wilburn.

Richard is optimistic that Andie will once again work by his side.

"These dogs are not an average dog. This dog is so highly trained it is so amazing," he said.

Bradenton police and Manatee County Animal Services continue to investigate the attack.

When FOX 13 went to the home where the attack happened, the owner told us the dogs had their shots up to date.

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