Guide dog law gets unanimous Assembly vote, ready for Governor’s signature

The Seeing Eye Inc., based in Morris Township, submitted this article.

Guide Dog Protection Law Goes to NJ Governor Christie for Signature

Dusty’s Law, named for Seeing Eye® Puppy, Passes N.J. Assembly with Unanimous Support

TRENTON, N.J. – The Seeing Eye applauds New Jersey legislators for supporting Dusty’s Law (A-4105), which passed the State Assembly with a unanimous vote.

The law, if signed by Governor Christie would penalize the owners of dogs who attack guide dogs and puppies in training, and encourage local governments and law enforcement agencies to step up their efforts to better protect service animals.

The Seeing Eye president, Jin Kutsch, and his guide dog, Vegas, pose beside statue of organization founder Morris Frank and his dog, Buddy, near the Morristown Green. Photo by Rachael Moore

The Seeing Eye president, Jim Kutsch, and his guide dog, Vegas, pose beside statue of organization founder Morris Frank and his dog, Buddy, near the Morristown Green. File photo by Rachael Moore

“Today’s action, on the part of the NJ Assembly, is to be applauded by all service animal handlers throughout New Jersey,” said Seeing Eye President & CEO Jim Kutsch.

“Dusty’s Law requires police to respond to a reported attack on a guide dog team. Police response is important because the imminent danger to a blind individual whose guide dog is being attacked or subjected to interference is potentially far greater than that of pet owners who do not require the services of their dogs to travel safely and independently.”

Dusty’s Law was sponsored in the Assembly by Charles Mainor, Daniel R. Benson, Jon M. Bramnick, Betty Lou DeCroce and Scott Rumana, and in the Senate by Anthony Bucco and Jeff Van Drew.

The legislation was spearheaded by The Seeing Eye after a Seeing Eye® puppy named Dusty was attacked and seriously injured while walking with his volunteer puppy raiser in July 2010.

Dusty was unable to complete Seeing Eye dog training due to the psychological damage caused by the attack and his puppy raiser sustained permanent injuries in the attack.

A Seeing Eye 2011 survey of guide dog users in the United States revealed that a startling 44 percent of guide dog teams have been attacked by other dogs.

Instances of aggressive interference from another dog are even higher, hitting 83 percent. Most of the reported attacks (80 percent) take place in a public right of way such as a sidewalk or street; and 74 percent of attacks occurred within a 30-minute walk of the guide dog user’s home, hindering the person’s ability to travel in his or her own neighborhood.

Tips for Dog Owners: Even a friendly, family dog, can cause harm by distracting a guide dog

  • Do not let your pet near a guide dog, even if your dog is leashed
  • Keep your dog under good control at all times. Using retractable leashes in populated areas, leaving your dog tied up outside unattended in a public place or allowing a child to walk it on a leash can endanger both the guide dog team and your own dog.
  • Report any loose dogs roaming about in your neighborhood to the local police and animal control officer
  • Offer assistance to a blind handler if you witness an attack or interference on a guide dog team. If it is your dog that causes harm, please take responsibility for its actions.
  • Learn about and obey your state and local leash laws. In many states it’s a criminal offense to permit your dog to attack or interfere with a guide dog.

For more information about dog attacks and specific recommendations on how pet owners, animal control, police officers and legislators can help keep their communities safe for guide dog users, visit www.seeingeye.org/protect.

Established in 1929, The Seeing Eye provides specially bred and trained dogs to guide people who are blind. Seeing Eye® dog users experience greatly enhanced mobility and independence, allowing them to retain their active lifestyles despite blindness. The Seeing Eye is a philanthropy supported by contributions from individuals, corporations and foundations, bequests, and other planned gifts.

The Seeing Eye is a trademarked name and can only be used to describe the dogs bred and trained at the school’s facilities in Morristown, N.J. If you would like more information on The Seeing Eye, please visit the website at www.SeeingEye.org, call (973) 539-4425, or email info@seeingeye.org.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE:

Why New Jersey needs Dusty’s Law: A Puppy-Raiser’s Story

MORE ABOUT THE SEEING EYE



Comments

  1. Phyllis Stevens says:

    So glad that this law was finally passed. Here’s to hoping the Governor will sign off on it soon!

  2. This is a great start, but all Service Dogs should be included not just guide dogs. I can see, but that doesn’t mean I can protect myself and my service dog from an aggressive dog or human. All people paired with a service dog live with a life limiting disability. It stands to reason that we are also at risk. I applaud the concept of this decision but trust that Governor Christie and the Assembly will extend these same protections to all Service Dog teams.

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