Feature Writer Terri Winaught – Control Your Dogs, Please!

Ernest Jones is a good friend and fellow writer who lives in Washington State where he writes a monthly column for the Walla Walla Valley Weekly. In Ernie’s articles, he educates the public about blindness, raises awareness of challenges, and shares achievements.

A significant challenge for many guide dog users is having their guides attacked by dogs that are running loose. While many municipalities have leash laws, it seems that some people don’t think or care about the problems they can cause by disobeying these laws.

In his July 24, 2012 column, Ernie shared his experiences of guide dog attacks. In one instance, the deputy to whom he reported the incident never even passed the information on to the animal control officer–something Ernie discovered when following up.

“Though it has been 8 years since one of my guide dogs was attacked,” Ernie began, “the incident has been permanently burned into my mind.”

Because Ernie received such an overwhelming response from both blind and sighted individuals, he addressed this topic again in an August, 2012 article. It is important to note that attacks have been perpetrated not only against guide dogs, but also against other service animals.

One woman he wrote about who uses a dog to alert her when she is about to have a seizure or a blood sugar problem shared what it was like when her animal was attacked. “When my dog was attacked, some teenage boys came to the rescue by pulling the attacker away,” she reported.

Although assaults on service dogs are prosecutable offenses, there are times when even legal action fails. “When my dog was attacked,” Ernie explained “the neighbor was prosecuted and reprimanded, but she continued to ignore leash laws. It wasn’t until her home owner’s insurance company was notified that she started taking notice,” Ernie concluded.

Since Ernie’s guide dog series elicited local and national response, it is everyone’s hope that eyes blinded by discourteousness will be opened and yield positive results for caring owners and their treasured helpers.

I’m aware from previous articles that some of you have had the misfortune of a guide dog or dogs being attacked. What legal remedies, if any, were you able to pursue?

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