For Immediate Release
Contact: Michelle Barlack, (973) 539-4425

August 14, 2013

The Seeing Eye Applauds NJ Senate for Proclamation Supporting Service Animals

Seeing Eye President & CEO Calls on NJ Assembly to Pass Dusty’s Law

MORRISTOWN, N.J. – On Wednesday, August 14th, The Seeing Eye participated in New Jersey’s first Assistance Animal Recognition Day, an event established through a resolution created by Senator Donald Norcross and signed into law last week by Governor Chris Christie. The proclamation highlights the essential role that Seeing Eye® dogs and other service animals play in the lives of New Jersey residents who are disabled and promotes awareness of the rights of persons with disabilities to be accompanied by their service animals in public places.

The proclamation also highlights the need for pet owners to control their animals in the presence of service animals and for local governments and law enforcement agencies to step up their efforts to better protect service animals. It comes on the heels of the Senate’s passage of “Dusty’s Law,” a bill sponsored by Senator Anthony Bucco, and spearheaded by The Seeing Eye after a Seeing Eye puppy named Dusty was attacked and seriously injured while walking with his volunteer puppy raiser. 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. The bill (A-4105), which would penalize the owners of dogs who attack guide dogs and puppies in training, was passed by the N.J. Senate in 2013 but has yet to be heard in the Assembly committee for Law and Public Safety.

“The Seeing Eye applauds the efforts of Senator Norcross and the New Jersey legislature for designating the second Wednesday of every August as Assistance Animal Recognition Day,” said Seeing Eye President & CEO Jim Kutsch. “It is our hope that the New Jersey Assembly will follow the Senate’s lead by hearing and passing Dusty’s Law, which would offer real protection to guide dogs and puppies in training.”

The proclamation also alerts the public to the harm that can be caused when pet owners misrepresent their dogs as legitimate service animals. New Jersey is one of the few states that makes it a crime to misrepresent pets as service animals. Each month many businesses contact The Seeing Eye to express concern about customers fraudulently claiming they have the right to be accompanied by their pets or emotional support animals. These pets are often reported to be disruptive and poorly behaved, jeopardizing the access rights of those individuals who truly rely on their dogs to live independently.

“Although pet owners may enjoy having their dogs with them everywhere they go, the experience may not be as pleasurable for the dog,” cautioned Peggy Gibbon, Director of Canine Development at The Seeing Eye. “Without the benefit of extensive preparation and training like that given to Seeing Eye dogs, an ordinarily well-behaved pet dog can quickly become stressed or fearful when forced to go into an unfamiliar setting.”

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, call (973) 539-4425, or email