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More Than a School...A Philosophy of Life.

News and Information.

For Immediate Release
Contact: Michelle Barlak
(973) 539-4425
mbarlak@seeingeye.org

January 22, 2014

New Jersey Passes Dusty's Law as The Seeing Eye's 85th Anniversary Approaches

MORRISTOWN, N.J. - The Seeing Eye, founded 85 years ago on January 29, 1929, is the first non-profit established in the United States to train guide dogs for people who are blind and visually impaired. Dusty's Law, signed by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie on January 21, gives local governments and law enforcement agencies better tools to help protect service animals and guide dogs in training.

"The Seeing Eye has created more than 16,000 partnerships between people and dogs since 1929," said Seeing Eye President and CEO Jim Kutsch. "In 85 years, great strides have been made in educating the public about issues affecting people with disabilities, including those who require the assistance of guide dogs. We're proud that New Jersey has acknowledged the important service a Seeing Eye dog provides by enacting Dusty's Law, one of the most comprehensive guide dog protection laws passed by a state to date."

The Seeing Eye's co-founder Morris Frank and his Seeing Eye® dog Buddy, are credited with paving the way for the nationwide acceptance of service dogs and the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act which grants the right of public access to people assisted by service dogs. Today, The Seeing Eye continues to honor the legacy of Morris Frank and Buddy by educating the public about the rights of people with disabilities and pursuing legislation that will protect guide dog teams.

Dusty's Law provides for police response to attacks on guide dogs, whose handlers can be left vulnerable and stranded when their dog has been injured. It sets penalties for owners of dogs who attack service animals and guide dogs in training, and provides restitution for the owner of the injured service dog who may have to face unplanned emergency bills, lost wages and the need to replace their means of independent travel.

Dusty's Law was sponsored in the Senate by Anthony Bucco and Jeff Van Drew, and in the Assembly by Charles Mainor, Daniel R. Benson, Jon M. Bramnick, Betty Lou DeCroce and Scott Rumana. 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 2011 Seeing Eye® 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 walk safely 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, including New Jersey, 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 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 SeeingEye.org, email info@seeingeye.org or call (973) 539-4425.

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