Seeing eye guide dogs cost $50-$60K to breed, raise, train and put to work.

An alarming new trend involves attacks on guide dogs, primarily by pit bulls or other dangerous dog breeds. Guide Dog Users, Inc. responded with a Dog Attack Handbook.

“GDUI is saddened to tell you that we have received an increasing number of reported incidents involving loose dog attacks on guide dogs. Although 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 guide dog or its services.

Guide dogs are highly trained animals and are far from being ordinary dogs or pets; rather they enhance a blind person’s freedom, safety and independence. When a guide dog 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 an organization that trains dog guides can range up to $60,000.00 per person/dog team.”

“…Buddy and I have been harassed by loose dogs as well as by people who think it is fun to upset someone who is blind and can’t see them. During one incident with a loose dog, Buddy became afraid and pulled me to the right and I hit a metal sign very hard. Then he didn’t stop to warn me about the curb and I fell down into the street.”

    – Charlie Lynch; Newport News, VA

“…The dog had its teeth latched to Amy’s neck. I felt with my hands and realized Amy was in grave danger. My friend was trying to pull the dog off Amy as I pounded my fists on the dog’s head, muzzle, and tried to pry his mouth off my dog. The fear going through my body was indescribable as I pictured my dog slowly dying in front of me.”

– Kari Kopischke; Minneapolis, MN

“…I tried to push the dog off and do all that I could but it just hung tightly onto Sundae. One of the people on the street said they wanted to help me but they were afraid of this dog and that the owners had gone to work and left the dog to run loose. Next thing I know, we were in the middle of the intersection and Sundae was sprawled out in the road. All the cars saw me crying and asking for help but they just kept driving around us. Thankfully, a garbage truck stopped and a guy took a stick to the loose dog.”

– Marie Keane; Pittsburgh, PA

“…Evan and I were home from guide dog school less than 6 weeks when he was not only assaulted 4 times in less than 2 weeks by the same neighborhood dog but this same dog would often sit on my front stairs and prevent us from safely approaching our house. 23 calls were made to the local dog officer – not to mention the countless calls to the local police department who claimed they could not do anything until the dog officer filed a formal complaint.”

– Pat Hill; Malden, MA

The Seeing Eye, the nation’s oldest school providing specially bred and trained dog guides for blind individuals states:

“Dog attacks on dog guides are devastating. Some dogs die. Even if the dog survives the attack, it often becomes fearful of other dogs and the location where the attack occurred. The fear manifests itself by the dog’s refusal to approach any dog it meets along the route it travels with its blind master. It takes a long time for the fear to wane and this diminishes the blind person’s freedom to travel. And while the Seeing Eye dog is bred to be mellow and is trained to ignore other animals, once attacked, its natural instincts may make it aggressive in return. An aggressive dog guide cannot work properly in social situations and the blind owner would have to obtain a new dog. It may take several months waiting for a class date and the appropriate dog, and then four weeks in residence at The Seeing Eye for a blind person to learn to work with a new dog guide. This would be a tremendous imposition and interrupt the blind person’s job, family life and routine.

It costs The Seeing Eye $50,000 to breed, raise and train a dog and to provide a blind person with round trip airfare to New Jersey, room and board for four weeks, the course of instruction, the dog, the dog’s equipment and follow-up services for life. A dog will work on average 8 years. To disrupt the working life a trained dog guide because a pet owner did not control its dog is shameful waste.”

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