Information for State & Local Lawmakers

Each time pet owners allow their dog(s) to roam loose or unsupervised, the safety of dog guide teams is at risk!

Dog guides are highly trained animals and are far from being ordinary dogs or pets; rather they enhance a blind person's freedom, safety and mobility. When a dog guide is no longer serviceable as a guide due to the physical or emotional effects of an attack, it is devastating to the blind handler to lose this valued companion and source of mobility. Moreover, the cost of the dog and services from The Seeing Eye or other organizations that train dog guides can range up to $50,000.00 per person/dog team.

The solution to loose and uncontrolled dogs depends largely on changing the behavior of irresponsible pet owners. While most local and state laws prohibit dogs roaming about unleashed and unsupervised, many of the existing penalties are not significant enough to alter the behavior of an irresponsible pet owner. Furthermore, the penalty for permitting a dog to roam at-large is often difficult to administer and rarely covers the true value of the loss of a trained dog guide or its services.

Strengthening state and local laws to make it a criminal offense for any owner/handler who knowingly, recklessly or negligently permits their dog to harm or interfere with a Seeing Eye dog is one way to help. Several states have already passed laws to protect the rights of blind people and their dog guides to safely travel within their communities without being harassed or attacked by loose or uncontrolled dogs.

The Seeing Eye recognizes that tougher enforcement alone won't stop dog attacks. But state laws with tough consequences must be a component of any effort to effectively combat the needless harm and waste that improperly controlled dogs inflict upon a dog guide team.

For additional information on how to enact dog guide protection statutes, read "Protecting a Special Class of Animal: An Examination of and Recommendations for Enacting Dog Guide Protection Statutes" (Winter 2004) published in Connecticut Law Review, 37 Conn. L. Rev. 569

Related Information

For more information, contact The Seeing Eye Advocacy Council toll-free at 1-800-539-4425 or email advocacy@seeingeye.org.