A woman who relies on the support of her service dog has urged others to recognise how important they are to vulnerable people.

Catherine Anderson, of Ruabon, is registered partially sighted following a diagnosis of glaucoma some years ago and has osteoarthritis.

Her canine companion Madison, a standard size Yorkshire terrier, is a trained emotional support dog who goes everywhere with her.

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As well as providing Mrs Anderson with emotional reassurance, Madison carries out a number of tasks to help her - such as fetching items.

And after the 69-year-old fell at home recently and was unable to reach her emergency call button, Madison not only fetched the device, but she pressed it too.

But unbelievably, attention towards five-year-old Madison when out and about has resulted in Mrs Anderson receiving all manner of abuse, she said.

"It's so annoying that some people can't understand why these dogs are around," she explained.

"The abuse I've had from people who want to stroke her and I have had to say they can't touch her while she's working is unbelievable.

"I've been sworn at, spat at and even had things thrown at me. It's just not on.

"People are very ignorant when it comes to dogs for the disabled; they are there to provide a service."

Mrs Anderson said she felt motivated to raise awareness after an incident on Tuesday last week, when she visited Sainsbury's in Plas Coch Road, Wrexham, for the first time.

Madison is timid around trolleys after having been struck by one last year, so Mrs Anderson placed her on a blanket in her trolley's child seat, as she does in other stores.

But she said she was approached by staff and asked to take Madison out.

She explained: "They offered to hold her outside while I did my shopping, but it doesn't work like that - she stays with me.

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"I had to leave my shopping and I was really upset and angry.

"She was wearing an assistance dog ID disc; as plain as the nose on your face.

"I was informed it was another customer that had complained about Madison - these are the people who should look to see what she's wearing before making a complaint.

"I felt so humiliated - there were people standing all around."

A Sainsbury’s spokesman said: "We strive to be an inclusive retailer where people love to work and shop. 

"Our stores welcome trained assistance dogs walking on leads or harnesses. 

"For any other circumstances, our colleagues are trained to offer alternative, reasonable adjustments to ensure customers are able to do their shopping with us.”