For years, Richard Bunce has worked as a station master for Horsley Station in East Horsley, Surrey. He assumed this post solo, but started bringing his dog George in to work about three years ago.
George was always perfectly behaved, and visitors loved to see him there. Then recently, South Western Railway issued a ban on dogs at work after learning about him from a secret shopper (who left a glowing review of the station).
Bunce explained why he started bringing George to work with him in the first place:
“For some people, dogs are family – that’s what George is to me. I took it upon myself to bring him into work. I was never told I couldn’t, but I didn’t ask either.”
Sadly, this ban leaves Bunce and George with few options. Even if he could afford to send his dog to daycare, Bunce’s shift starts at 5:30 am, when most of them are closed. Bunce explained:
“I don’t want to spend the whole day away from him alone in the house and if I was to drop him off at a doggy daycare, it’d have to be at 5:30am. I don’t think there’s anywhere near here that opens that early.”
Since he can no longer bring George with him to work, Bunce will simply have to leave his job at the station.
“I don’t see the problem.”
To Bunce, this decision to ban George seems very unmotivated. The Wirehaired Pointer is extremely well-behaved, and he provides Bunce with company while he works alone all day.
“If I was to be working at a station that had ten other people in the office I wouldn’t even try to bring him in as it’s not suitable. I work on my own. I don’t see the problem.”
George’s presence at the station has never been an issue. He doesn’t growl, bite, or jump on anyone, and customers even love to see him. George has a bed at work where he spends much of the day, and he takes walks before work to expend some energy.
“He’s in the ticket office with me so there’s no immediate contact. If they can see in, they see him. Some bring bags of treats to him. He’s a happy-go-lucky well behaved dog.”
Fans Of George And Richard Are Outraged
Thousands of locals and fans of Bunce and his dog have expressed their outrage over the South Western Railway’s decision. There’s even a change.org petition that has over 8,000 signatures. The description of the petition, penned by Adam Aaronson, notes:
“I can’t make out who is more popular in this scenario, George or Richard, but the people who aren’t making themselves popular are South Western.”
While the community is still hopeful that management will change their minds, Bunce accepts the reality of his current situation.
“I emailed my immediate manager this afternoon – I imagine he’s aware of comments and the support – of my intention to come back if they’re happy for me to come back without the dog short-term.”
If he does return to his post, though, Bunce will do so only if George is allowed to join as well.
“I’ll do my notice. If I’m allowed to, I’ll carry on with my dog. I’m genuinely not angry or bitter, it’s just a situation that wouldn’t work.”
As many others do, I hope this situation ends with Bunce and George getting to stay at Horsley station.