Lake County woman reunited with guide dog taken in March

Permanent court order still needs to be made

LAKE COUNTY, Fla. – A Lake County woman was reunited with her guide dog on Thursday. Susan Blake said it had been 77 days without her guide dog until a court order was issued on Thursday.

“Didi! Didi! Hi sweets, it’s momma. Hi darling. Oh my goodness,” Blake said.

Blake said she first got Didi eight years ago. She said the dog was taken in March by Southeastern Guide Dogs of Palmetto. Blake said the concern was that the dog’s health was not properly being cared for.

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“She pulled the dog out of my arms,” Blake said. “She’s my guide dog, my security, my mobility, my whole life.”

Blake received helped from Marion Gwizdala from Advocates for Service Animal Partners, and an attorney who took the case.

Gwizdala said Didi was returned to Blake on Thursday after a judge ruled a temporary order.

“The court has said that it seems as if Susan owns the dog. They want the dog returned to her, which we have done,” Gwizdala said.

Gwizdala said a permanent order still needs to be made.

“We are confident that this a winnable case. This is going to make a dramatic impact on the way service animal handlers are treated by the training programs that train our dogs.”

Blake said that Didi helps her in her everyday life.

“To have her presence. Her unconditional love. To have our family back together, and now I have some freedom back. We can go and walk around the neighborhood,” Blake said.

Blake said that she will continue to advocate for others in similar situations.

“So that other blind people don’t have to be afraid and that they aren’t going to be victimized like I have been. This was cruelty and this was victimization to people they are suppose to serve.”

News 6 reached out to Southeastern Guide Dogs of Palmetto and did not hear back at the time this article was published.

About the Author:

Troy graduated from California State University Northridge with a Bachelor's Degree in Communication. He has reported on Mexican drug cartel violence on the El Paso/ Juarez border, nuclear testing facilities at the Idaho National Laboratory and severe Winter weather in Michigan.