Current Assistance Dog Legislation

February 10, 2011 · Posted in Assistance Dogs, Service Dogs 
legislative session

As a member of an assistance dog team, I know I sometimes take for granted all of the policy and administrative decisions that are being discussed and implemented. These laws and policies are very important, as they can directly impact our ability to function in public as effective assistance dog teams. Recently I heard about two legislative proposals directly related to assistance dogs that I think are of interest.

Representative seeks to designate National Assistance Dog Week in Hawaii

The first is from Hawaii Representative Corinne Ching. Representative Ching has proposed House Bill 1596 which would formally designate the second week of August as National Assistance Dog Week in Hawaii.

Representative Ching needs your support for this assistance dog specific legislation. She encourages people from throughout the United States to email her at repching@capitol.hawaii.gov and weigh in on her endeavor to make Hawaii the first state to declare NADW (www.assistancedogweek.org) an official holiday! Even a short message saying you approve of this recognition and the public education opportunity it supports will be appreciated.

Penalties for owners of dogs that attack service animals

Secondly, Pennsylvania Representative John Evans has introduced House Bill 165 which creates civil and criminal penalties for dog owners if their pet kills or maims a service animal. This legislation allows for fines of up to $1,000 and jail time of up to two years, and would require those convicted to pay veterinary and replacement costs.

This legislation is now headed for the Pennsylvania House floor for consideration. I don’t know if you and/or your assistance dog have ever been attacked. I can tell you that my service dog, Ramona, and I were on business in Washington, D.C. and were attacked by a dog while approaching the elevator to the Metro. It was quite a shocking experience because this dog suddenly came from out of a local business located near the Metro elevator.

Luckily, my husband Franz was with me and his quick actions saved Ramona’s life. Ramona suffered post traumatic stress from that moment on. So from a personal perspective, I can really appreciate Representative Evans’ leadership to hold pet owners accountable in such unfortunate incidents. You can connect with Representative Evans’ office through Jennifer Keaton at jkeaton@pahousegop.com or through his Facebook page.

We are all so busy with our everyday lives but I think it is important that we try to pay attention to current legislation that will impact our ability to work and thrive in public as individuals with disabilities with our assistance dogs. Do you know of any other legislation that is currently being proposed in your state that we should be tuned into?

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