Law would make intentionally distracting service dog a crime

A bill pertaining to service dogs is being looked at by legislators (WFSB)

Guide dogs are very helpful, especially for their owners, but when a stranger tries to interfere, it can make the job a lot more difficult or even dangerous.

Nose to the job, there should be no distractions.

People who rely on the dogs say it's not uncommon for people to come up and distract them on purpose.

They're trying to stop that, with a bill that says anyone who intentionally interferes with an assistance or guide dog could face criminal charges, punishable by up to three months in prison.

"What this bill does is it recognizes the need to raise awareness in the community that if they interfere with a service dog as it's working particularly a service dog that works as a guide dog for one of our blind clients it could be life threatening or even worse,” said Eliot Russman, CEO of the Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation.

Fidelco provides guide dogs to people across the nation.

The organization invests two years, 15,000 hours, and $45,000 into training a dog before giving it to a client.

Other states have similar laws in place already that hold punishments of prison time and fines.

"Few service dog owners want their dog to interact with the public. So, the best thing to do is if you see a service dog team, especially a guide dog team, and you want to ask questions or possibly interact with the dog, you really need to ask the human first,” said Betty Cook, a placement specialist for Fidelco.

Opponents to the bill say they’re concerned the penalties are too harsh for someone who may intend to be friendly, which is why the language of the bill has changed to those who “intentionally interfere.”

The bill now awaits further action in the House of Representatives.

Copyright 2017 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.


Recommended for you