Guide Dog Attacked

I hoped that I would never be the one to have to experience this, but alas, it happened… The whole situation makes me so angry. What has come to our society? Here is what happened.

On Wednesday, I was walking to one of my schools (Abernethy Elementary School), and my guide dog, Nabisco, was attacked and bitten (drew blood) by two large dogs on fairly long leashes in front of the school. I was walking about a half a block behind the man and as we closed the gap, but not within passing distance, the dogs turned around and attacked; completely unprovoked and it happened extremely fast. As I screamed, “I am blind and this is my guide dog, get your dog off mine”, the man walked away only stating that his “10 year old was holding the leash”, like that even matters. He left me calling for help and Nabisco bleeding. When I told him that his dog bit mine and that he was bleeding, I got no response from the man. Nabisco had to be taken to the vet to care for his wounds on his muzzle. No one stopped to help me and the parent walked away without acknowledging the incident or asking if I was okay or needed help. I was eventually helped by the PE teacher arriving to work. It all happened so fast and no one was able to identify the individual. At this time, the individual has still not come forward and he has still not been identified. We are pretty sure that it is a parent as staff report seeing the dogs frequently tied up in front of the school at drop off. I sure hope the gentleman can be identified so I can hold him accountable. What if it is a child next time?

As I write this out, it reminds me an awful lot of an incident I wrote about at the same school back on December 9th that sparked my post What Does A Guide Dog Do? Do you agree it seems similar?

I am absolutely appalled that the man did not ask if me and my dog were okay, acknowledge that his dog bit mine, or even seemed to remotely care. What has our society come to?

Nabisco’s wounds are healing and he is being monitored closely by myself and Guide Dogs for the Blind for training implications this traumatic event may have on him. They have been really supportive through this process. Unfortunately, many people don’t realize that a dog attack on a guide dog can be career ending.

I filed a report with animal control on Thursday and have not heard from anyone. I am starting to feel like law enforcement is not taking me seriously and since the man has still yet to be identified, i’m not sure what can be done.

Nabisco’s veterinary bills were covered in full by Guide Dogs for the Blind. If you are reading this and are as upset and appalled at this whole situation as I am and feel the need to do something, I am encouraging people to make a donation to Guide Dogs for the Blind. They go above and beyond to provide veterinary expense assistance to all of their program dogs. Guide Dogs for the Blind operates solely on generous donations of its donors and does not receive any government assistance. They use donations to support all operating costs and to train and provide these amazing guide dogs and their equipment free of charge to blind and visually impaired individuals like myself. If you feel so inclined, please make a donation to Guide Dogs for the Blind “in honor of Nabisco” and state that the funds should be used for the Veterinary Financial Assistance Program. Thank You!

I am using this opportunity to further educate my school communities about what a guide dog is trained to do and respectful etiquette when you see a guide dog working, especially when you are walking with your pet dog.

I sure hope that Nabisco and I are able to heal and move on from this incident with no lasting implications on our ability to work as a team.

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Therapy Dog vs Service Dog… What’s the difference?

I had the opportunity for Nabisco and I to be featured in a video, produced by Portland Public Schools on service dogs. The video turned out fantastic and I think it is great that they are supporting the important work that my guide dog and other service dogs do. To watch the video click here!

I love all of the opportunities that I get to educate my fellow staff and students about service dogs and service dog etiquette.

I would however, like to take a moment to describe the difference between therapy dogs and service dogs because there is a fundamental and extremely important difference as these two types of dogs serve VERY DIFFERENT roles. I hear my guide dog referred to so many times as a therapy dog and it bothers me as there is a significant difference.

THERAPY DOGS: Therapy dogs are pet dogs that are registered with local or national organizations (such as Pet Partners) that have passed basic obedience and tests to allow them access to hospitals, nursing homes, schools, and libraries to provide animal visitation to patients and children. While there are significant, research driven benefits of animal visitation and animal-assisted therapy, these dogs do not have public access and are not protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act. People are encouraged to pet these dogs and they are brought into hospitals to give people comfort. Libraries have also developed read to the dogs programs to help children practice their reading skills.

SERVICE DOGS: Service dogs on the other hand are dogs that are specifically trained to perform a task to help mitigate a limitation posed by a person’s disability. These dogs are seen as medically necessary and are therefore protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act and are allowed in any public establishment that the general public is allowed. There are several different types of service dogs, these include guide dogs for the blind, hearing dogs, mobility assistance dogs, seizure response dogs, and medical alert dogs. It is important to know that business or persons of interest may ask a service dog handler two questions. 1) Is that dog your service dog? and 2) What specific task is it trained to perform? The task that it is trained to perform must be related to their disability and may not be stated as “emotional support”.

I had my first incident with a store clerk attempting to deny me access to the store because of my guide dog. Although the situation ended in my favor and the store owner actually came and apologized, the incident caused me great anxiety as the store clerk was encroaching on my rights.

I love my ability to work in the schools and reach so many individuals and teach them about the difference between service dogs and therapy dogs and the important work that Nabisco does for me.

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Service Dog

 

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Therapy Dog