A railway station master was ‘forced out’ of his job by killjoy bosses, who banned him from bringing his dog to work. This despite no complaints from passengers. All love the friendly pet.

Richard Bunce, 54, is a celebrity with George, his four-year-old dog. 

Bunce was such a good worker that the transport hub was nominated as Best Small Station of Year three months ago.

However, South Western Railway issued the ban after a mystery shopper gave it glowing reviews – noting in passing that a dog was present in the office.

The new conditions mean that Mr Bunce cannot continue to do the job because he is no longer a train guard. 

Even if he had the money to pay for daycare, the time he starts his shifts at 5.30am would mean that none of them would be open. 

Now over 2,000 people have signed a petition – backed by East Horsley Parish Council – urging bosses to see sense and let the pet back to the station.

George was taken in by Mr Bunce around three years ago, as he had been working alone during his popular tenure.

He told MailOnline: ‘For some people, dogs are family – that’s what George is to me.

“I made it my mission to bring him to work. I wasn’t told I couldn’t, but he didn’t ask.

“It has never caused any problems. Everyone has been very positive. He doesn’t bother anyone and he stays at the ticket office.

Richard Bunce, said George was like a 'member of his family' and took him to work as he was the only one working there

Richard Bunce, who said George was like his family, took George to work because he wasn’t the only one there

Station master Richard Bunce, 54, and his dog had been adored fixtures at Horsley Railway Station in East Horsley, Surrey

Station master Richard Bunce, 54 and his dog, were beloved fixtures at Horsley Railway Station East Horsley in Surrey

George has become a local celebrity at Horsley railway station and news of his impending departure have saddened locals

George has become a local star at Horsley railway station, and news of George’s impending departure has shocked locals

Mr Bunce was so good at his job the transport hub was even nominated for Best Small Station of the Year three months ago

Because Mr Bunce was so great at his job, the transport hub was nominated for Best Small Station in the Year three months back

Locals are devastated after Mr Bunce has been forced to leave his job because of his dog, pictured Lucy the dog , John, Sue, Sylvia and Kevin

Locals are devastated that Mr Bunce was forced to quit his job due to his dog. Pictured Lucy the dog, John, Sue and Sylvia.

“But as of Monday, going ahead, dogs aren’t allowed in the ticket offices.

“We had a secret shopper who visited the station. It was noted that there had been a dog in the ticket counter. It was not a positive or negative note. It was simply noted that it existed. They were happy with their station, except for that.

“I must leave the job because it isn’t cost-effective.”

“I don’t want him to spend the entire day alone in the house. If I wanted to drop him off at a dog daycare, it would have to be before 5.30am. I don’t think there’s anywhere close to here that opens that early.

“If I were to work at a station with ten people in the office, I wouldn’t even attempt to bring him in because it’s not appropriate. I work by myself. I don’t see any problem.

Over 2,000 residents and dog-lovers signed a petition requesting that Mr Bunce be allowed to take George to Work.

They say they are essential members of the community and have done hours worth of unpaid work to assist those who live there. 

During lockdown, when the local library was shut down, Mr Bunce offered a pop up book borrowing service to help the aged stay connected and entertained. 

George's proud owner Richard Bunce poses happily with him on the train platform where passengers commute each day

George’s proud owner Richard Bunce poses with him on the train platform that passengers use to commute each day.

German white-haired pointer George would lie in the station office causing no trouble and was popular with passengers

George, a German white-haired pointer, would lie down in the station office and cause no trouble. This was a popular choice with passengers.

Now over 2,000 people have signed a petition urging bosses to see sense and let the pet back to the station in Surrey

Over 2,000 people have signed a petition asking bosses for common sense and to allow the pet to return to the station in Surrey.

Mr Bunce added he hoped SWR would reconsider and make an allowance, especially considering he is the sole worker there

Bunce stated that he hoped SWR would reconsider the matter and give him an allowance, particularly considering he is their sole worker.

The petition to save Richard Bunce and George has been started online and already has fetched at least 2,000 signatures

The online petition to save Richard Bunce & George has already at least 2,000 signatures

Station to station: Some railways accept pets as staff members 

While the rules for animals may vary from one station or another, there is a general approach that can be taken to them in the office.

A beloved moggie who spent nearly five years patrolling a West Yorkshire railway station station was promoted in 2016 for her dedication to her job.

Felix, a black and white cat, was named Senior pest controller and received a new high-vis jacket from TransPennine Express and a name badge.

Since 2011, she has worked at Huddersfield Railway Station, catching mice and making friends with commuters every day. She also gets paid in cat treats.

One of the challenges she faced was when the barriers that were built to catch fare dodgers stopped her from patrolling the station looking for mice.

Felix’s problem was quickly identified by train operators, who were able to provide a unique cat flap that allowed Felix to bypass the barriers.

The feline was able go about her daily business with the new system.

She was able to gain the support of her colleagues, and in the process captured the hearts and minds of commuters.

Felix even had her own Facebook page with over 4000 followers

Chris Bamford, a station Customer Services Assistant, stated that the promotion was a nice recognition of Felix’s hard work. It’s a reward for almost five years of service. Her smile is all that makes me smile.

‘She is often found on the concourse, just sitting on a podium beside me during busy periods. Felix brings a smile to morning commuters who just glance at her. 

“Felix is part the family here, though she likes to think she runs it.”

Staff thought she was a male when she was kitten, so the dedicated moggie was named after her.

They decided to keep the name, even though they discovered she was actually a female.


The petition reads: “Richard has been responsible in many local initiatives and the tidy, friendly and friendly upkeep Horsley station which was a labour of love for both him and his well-behaved and friendly dog George.

George was not doing any harm, but rules are rules. Richard and George make a great team that makes for a happy station. Don’t try to fix it.

MailOnline received a letter from a customer at the station stating that Richard was a charming man who has transformed the station. 

He is a local hero. Everyone loves George and his presence. It’s sad that the individuality of stations is slowly disappearing into history.

“His bosses should give Richard a promotion or raise for all that he has done for this village, not making it impossible for Richard to work there.” 

After SWR’s no dogs ruling, Mr Bunce was able to take a few days off. A concerned regular reached out to find out where he was.

He said: ‘Someone asked why I wasn’t there as I always am, I explained I will ill but I also said to them I’d have to leave as dogs aren’t allowed in the station now.

“I’ve done pretty much nothing since then. The ball is now rolling down the hill. I’ve seen some comments online and I’ve read the petition. Virtually everyone I’ve talked to cannot see the problem. 

“In Horsley I swear the entire world and his mate own at least one dog so George is a huge fan.

He doesn’t do a lot at work, but he’s very chill. I take him for a walk every morning before going to work. He is comfortable in his bed. He just waits for his audience.

“He’s at the ticket office with us so there’s no immediate contact. If they can see him, they will see him. Some bring him treats. He is a happy-go lucky, well-behaved dog.

‘I think SWR have been fair. If there is a ruling, or a reason that I can’t bring him to the office, that’s fine. I’m not trying make a statement. It’s just that if I can’t take him to the office, I can’t go to work. 

“I emailed my immediate manager today – I assume he’s aware, comments and support – of the intention to return if they’re happy to have me return without the dog for a short-term.

‘I’ll do my notice. If I’m allowed to, then I’ll continue with the dog. It’s not something I would do, but it’s a bad situation.

Bunce stated that he hoped SWR would reconsider the matter and provide an allowance, particularly considering Bunce is the sole worker at station. 

Many local residents have supported Mr Bunce’s dog and helped him.

NextDoor user, one wrote: “This is absolutely terrible! Richard, you are the best station master. You are a total asset for British Rail.

Another commented, “I’m new to the area, but every time that I’ve been to station thought how wonderful it is to see your canine companion at work.” I can’t see the problem, the world has gone mad.

“Total nonsense from the company…happy stationmasters and dogs bring smiles to most commuters’ faces – bad judgment call by your ex-company in mine opinion.” 

A spokesperson for South Western Railway said: ‘While we don’t allow dogs to be brought into workplaces across our network, we recognise the strength of feeling in Horsley and are looking into the individual circumstances of this case.’