Attack on Guide Dog for the Blind Spurs Legislation Protecting ThemPublished December 24, 2012
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A vicious attack on Dusty, a nine month-old German Shepherd puppy in guide-dog training made by a ferocious dog in Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey has marshaled dismayed activists to pass Dusty’s Law. The pending bill calls for criminal penalties levied against irresponsible dog owners whose canines injure or kill service dogs and those in training.
According the North Jersey News, Dusty sustained life-threatening wounds to his neck and head during the attack. Roger Woodhour, who has been raising puppies for the Seeing-Eye Guide Dog Training Program for 20 years, was Dusty’s foster parent. He reported that four of the Dusty’s teeth were broken when the dog jumped on him and slammed his jaw into the ground. He said, "All I could think about was how to get Dusty out of the jaws of the dog. Dusty was looking at me with pleading eyes, like a human, bleeding all over the place."
Rushed to Park Ridge Animal Hospital, the injured puppy received a total of 98 internal and external stitches to his neck. Although he recovered from his physical injuries at the hospital, unfortunately the ensuing psychological trauma that he sustained forced him to have to leave the guide dog program.
If a blind person relying on their guide dog for enhanced freedom and mobility has their service dog attacked by another dog, that resource to their independence may be seriously impeded. Additionally, dog-on-guide dog attacks are not deemed criminal acts at this time, and are not considered police matters. Reports are referred to animal control officers and there is no guarantee that they would be able to immediately respond. Almost 44 percent of all guide dog users responding to a Seeing Eye's 2011 Dog Attack and Interference survey reported that they had experienced an attack.
New Jersey Assemblyman Robert Schroeder’s office called Woodhour days after the attack to arrange a meeting. The idea for the bill was launched as a result of their dialogue and Assembly Bill 2723, (Dusty’s Law) was drafted by Schroeder (R). This pivotal and crucial legislation mandates police response to a reported attack on a guide dog team. The pending bill now awaits Senate passage.
Quick response by law enforcement personnel is essential because the safety of a blind person whose guide dog is being attacked is in imminent danger of personal injury as well. Blind individuals cannot use their sight to defend themselves or protect their dogs.
Additionally the bill provides restitution for the affected handler and guide dog. The bill also applies to working guide-dogs, guide dogs and puppies in-training. This is a cause that has been endorsed by the New Jersey Council of the blind for years.
New Jersey residents can take action to ensure Dusty’s Law is passed and signed into law by Governor Christie by contacting your local representatives. Tell them how vital this legislation is and how important it is that it passes.
If this bill is signed into law in the great state of New Jersey, perhaps the rest of the country move forward to pass similar legislation. What do you think? Share your opinion in a comment.