Visually impaired priest reunited with guide dog after legal battle with trainer

MOUNT DORA, Fla. — A Mount Dora priest was reunited with her guide dog Thursday after the company that trained the dog reclaimed it from her without warning.

Reverend Susan Blake has been visually impaired since birth.

READ: Ocoee nursing home residents able to hug loved ones for first time in 15 months

Blake says a worker from Southeastern Guide Dogs came to her home in March, unannounced, and took the dog, named Didi.

Blake has relied on Didi to help her get around for eight years.

She says the company accused her of being behind on the Black Lab’s vaccinations, and allowing her to get four pounds overweight.

READ: See what NOAA is predicting for the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season

Supporters of Blake started an online fundraiser to help support her legal fight to have the dog returned.

Eyewitness News cameras were there Thursday as Blake was reunited with Didi after a preliminary order by a judge.

“It’s getting the team back together again,” Rev. Blake says.”And thus returns my mobility and my independence, and confidence, and that unconditional love that a dog always gives.”

READ: “I got this”: Special Olympics golfer brings inspiring story to Central Florida

Southeastern Guide Dogs says Blake signed a contract stating the company had permission to reclaim the dog if she wasn’t being cared for properly.

Blake says the dog was taken care of and claims the company hadn’t even contacted her in more than a year before showing up at her home to take the dog.

In response to the judge’s decision, Southeastern Guide Dogs released a statement saying, “We are surprised and concerned about this development, as our priority has been and remains the wellbeing and health of Didi. We will be evaluating our options before determining next steps.”