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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.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?
We are so excited about the upcoming 2010 National Assistance Dog Week. And, to celebrate this special week, we decided to create and to launch a new web site dedicated solely to National Assistance Dog Week (www.assistancedogweek.org). As an assistance dog lover and partner, it dawned on me a few years ago that assistance dogs needed recognition for the countless ways they enrich people’s lives. As a result, National Assistance Dog Week was born!
As I tried to imagine the perfect time of year for such a celebration, I reflected on growing up in the South where we experienced the “dog” days of summer every August. And, I thought what a great time that would be to celebrate these amazing dogs! So, the second week of every August is now National Assistance Dog Week!
This year, I am so excited that we had the opportunity to create a new web site dedicated to National Assistance Dog Week. I realized that many people and non-profit organizations don’t have a lot of time or resources to develop press releases, proclamations, and other plans. So, we thought we would help them out by creating a web site that would provide this information for FREE!
The site was created as a resource for individuals or organizations who would like to celebrate assistance dogs. Anyone can download free materials and templates to help them plan, organize and customize their own event(s). There are sample press releases, proclamations, ideas for events, and even a sample public service announcement. Everything is free for the taking.
There is even an opportunity to promote your local activity on the site. AND, there is a contest for the best event. You can enter your NADW 2010 event and win a special plaque and gift certificate.
In New Mexico, our Governor will be signing a proclamation declaring August 8-14, 2010 as Assistance Dog Week in New Mexico. We will also be holding an Assistance Dog Fair at Zoe & Guido’s on August 14 from 10:00am to noon. So stay tuned for more exciting information about the activities we’re planning.
National Assistance Dog Week and the new web site are all about raising awareness about how assistance dogs touch the lives of so many individuals with and without disabilities. Assistance dogs selflessly demonstrate their love and dedication 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. And, for one week out of the year, we have the opportunity to celebrate these amazing canine partners.
So have fun and PLEASE let us hear from you about how you plan to celebrate National Assistance Dog Week! Who knows, you just might win a prize for it!