Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Rosie Was Attacked: Who is Upholding Service Dog Protection Laws?? Anyone??

Rosie was attacked:
Laws Against Attacks on Service Dogs
July 1, 2010

Above: the dog on the leash is the one that stalked and attacked Rosie. I feel horrible that I had her in a down stay, like a sitting duck, but that was safer than stalking playfully in return.

It was supposed to be a good afternoon. I figured the weather had cooled enough that Rosie and I could walk up to Saxl Park next to the state hospital. If they haven’t hayed yet, the birds would be all over the place, bobolinks, Red-wings and sparrows. There would also be lots of wild flowers to take photos of as well. So Rosie and I make our way up State Street and through Cascade Park to get to Saxl Park. Then off the leash comes and Rosie is free to romp and chase her ball.

We had made our way from the far end of the field by the entrance to Cascade Park to the front where there is a parking lot behind an old empty building. I was tossing Rosie’s balls with a Chuck-it and checking out how dry the front vernal pool was and I noticed a man with one dog leashed and another off leash The one off leash began stalking behavior. I don’t normally take this seriously since many dogs we have met do this kind of behavior, as well as Rosie herself, and it always ends in a game of tag. Rosie wanted to return the behavior but the man was yelling for the dog (maybe “Nellie”?) but the dog just kept going. I had Rosie in a down-stay about 5 feet away from my right. To my utter shock, this dog just lunged at Rosie who was luckily turned around to run anyway and the dog would not leave her alone. Sheer panic rose out of my lungs as I yelled at this dog at the top of my lungs… it just happened. There was no forethought. Even when the man finally got to the scene to pull his dog off of Rosie that dog did not want to stop fighting. For all I know, this dog was out for blood and death. At points I tried to get hold of my pepper spray that hangs around my neck with a bright orange rescue whistle, but it just wasn’t happening. The man asked if she was alright, but I wasn’t sure yet. Rosie has a thick double coat that makes it difficult to find wounds on her skin. When she was attacked by a German Shepherd Dog as a pup, I did not feel or see any wounds, but later at the vet, Dr. Ritchie found some puncture wounds right off under the thick hair on her hips.

One thing I noticed is that Rosie was trying to hide somewhere. I thought it was because of the attack. She was acting weird. Later I would realize that she was hiding from ME! I was crushed.

So this guy comes back around to recheck and I said that I couldn’t find anything (wound wise that is). I then stood up and told him I would need his information because this was my service dog. He got all snippy and rude saying “I’m not going to give you my information. Your dog is fine!” and he began to walk away. Rosie at this point figured that this guy was the quietest and didn’t yell and was walking towards them. I am trying to call her back. He goes “See she’s walking right up to us!” And his dog was moving towards her every time. That followed by name calling and something about how I should follow the leash law (?). There is no leash law, and if there was he was violating the law as much as anyone. Yes my dog was off leash as she has been in that field since day one at 9 weeks old. She listens, doesn’t run off and is friendly. My dog is friendly. But this really wasn’t about my dog. It was about him and his dog that had just brutally attacked my dog who is also a medical alert dog. As he walked on and continued to call me names, I took his picture. He didn’t seem to mind, probably because he didn’t feel he was in the wrong here. Arrogance.

Above: The man, in this picture is calling me names and telling me that I should follow the leash laws. What leash laws? And wait, which dog was in down-stay and which dog was stalking and ignoring its human, and which dog attacked another who was in a down-stay and minding her own business?? Before you start blabbing nonsense, make sure you have the facts straight buddy. If any dog had to be leashed, it was YOURS!

Let’s stop here and take a look at Maine State Service Dog Law…

Attack on a Service Animal (Title 7; Part 9; Chapter 729; 3961-A)

A person who owns or keeps a dog that attacks, injures OR kills a service animal while the service animal is in discharge of its duties commit’s a civil violation for which a forfeiture of not more than $1,000 may be adjudged. When a person is adjudicated of a violation of this section, the court shall order the person to make restitution to the owner of the Service Animal for any veterinary bills and necessary retraining costs or replacement costs of the service animal if it is disabled or killed.

So I am left there in the field with Rosie who wanted nothing to do with me because when I yelled at the top of my lungs, I had scared her. How was she to know that I wasn’t yelling at her? As a result, her way of alerting me has been to get all wide eyed and leave, which I must say really didn’t help deescalate the situation. She has always checked in on me no matter where we are and what she is doing, and alerts when she feels she needs to. Not any more. I am not sure how to get her to alert properly again. Damage done.

I called animal control and reported the attack. Animal control said that I should stop by the Police Dept. and report it there as well. She said they could probably use that photo I took of him. So I walked back into town immediately. The spirit of the afternoon was gone. The field had already been hayed so Saxl was a rather barren land with no wild flowers or birds (because a number of them nest in the bushes and brush.) The only pictures I took that day at the field was a few of some sweet smelling Milk Weed, and this jerk whose dog had attacked my service dog.

I spoke to Officer Millard at the Bangor P. D. I had a feeling that this would most likely go no where as most things I report do. I left a message with Animal Control today, and have heard nothing. It was a long weekend due to the Fourth of July events and Monday being a holiday mostly for those who need to recover from their hangovers. I had expected someone to call me back, but nothing.

So at this point, my service dog is damaged, and that has affected the work she does for me. She also begins to pull ahead whenever a dog barks at us, or shows any sort of over-exuberance. I have to say I jump too. In the past few months since I have increased my activity, Rosie and I have been charged by 2 pit bulls, one nearly grabbed her hindquarters (Off of his property), one Boxer who seems to go as far as the end of her property, some sort of pit bull/American Bulldog/ Mastiff type dog near the entrance to the City Forest, and a white fluffy thing down the road who’s people made him mean. That dog rushed us on the sidewalk and began going after Rosie. On my way by, I mentioned that there was a $1,000 fine for an attack on a service animal. Now whenever they are out walking, they give us wide berth. This is the same person I am sure, who right out front on the sidewalk at the end of the front yard, a guy walked by with a small dog and seemed to be bragging that the mop would attack my dog if it was off leash. I have seen people in this neighborhood trying to make small dogs mean before, so I can believe that. Not surprisingly, both Rosie and I are very wary of every dog we see and/or hear.

It presently looks like another Maine Law is not being enforced. Most people, even the ones you would expect to know the laws don’t even familiarize themselves with them. Therefore, ignorance means they don’t have to work too hard on this one.

Police Resist Education...I dropped off a pamphlet that Crystal and I had posted on the Internet that put all the Service Dog pertinent laws on one pamphlet JUST THE WAY IT IS WRITTEN. This means that we wrote our pamphlet so that it was not any one person’s assumptions, translations or hypothesis. The officer said that they already had some of those pamphlets. (I was handing him just ONE pamphlet.) I knew that wasn’t true (our link for this online pamphlet is not widely known), and knew he was probably either lying or talking about the Maine Human Rights Commission’s pamphlet. If it was the latter, that meant the officer was not familiar with the pamphlet they were given. Why do people resist education?

Here is what I might know about the man whose dog attacked my service dog in the field. I believe that in order to avoid me on his way back to his vehicle that he cut off the trail in a weird spot (next to Fisheries & Wildlife building, the non parking lot side). Then he walked to his car which was a white SUV type vehicle. If he ever comes back to the field, I will take a picture of the jerk’s license plate too.

This man needs to be held accountable for what his dog did. I am sick of people who are supposed to care and enforce these laws that protect our pets, service dogs, and farm animals not doing anything, unless there is an open wound. My service dog is proof that there is more to damage than the visible ones. (Heck, so am I with an invisible disability!) She is a nervous wreck around other dogs, and before she could do fine with others… would just ignore them. Perhaps the issue with my dog alerting was my fault? But then again I wouldn’t have gone from a 0- 100 sudden panic attack had that man’s dog not attacked my dog. It is vicious dogs like this one, and stupid owners who let these dogs off leash who make it necessary to create leash laws.

I should be able to go places with my service dog without having to worry about some dog charging and attacking us. I just want to feel safe. Do I at least deserve that right?

The Following Information is a Bit Repetitive.  Bare with me...
Value of a Service Dog...
If the Police Department and Animal control really knew the value of service dogs to a person with ANY kind of disability maybe they would try a little harder to uphold the laws that are supposed to protect service dogs and their handlers.  To not do anything at all, it is like the police are saying they don't really give a crap about a dog.  That is the problem.  My dog is a Service dog, not just a pet.  It took years of hard work, training, testing, and lots of money to make my dog who she is today.  The injuries to a service dog do not have to be visual to damage the service dog's ability to do it's job.  The guy shown above thought that if my dog had no open wounds that there was nothing else he needed to do.  However, this jerk doesn't realize that the emotional damage is often just as debilitating, sometimes causing a dog to need to retire early.  My dog has been unable to properly alert me since this attack.  When my anxiety begins to rise, she is totally afraid of me and goes off to hide because I freaked out when the dog attacked and Rosie thought I was yelling at her.  I scared her.  It breaks my heart (and doesn't help my anxiety much) to see her do this.

We are not safe...
 Every dog that barks when we walk down the street scares her to death.  And it doesn't matter if Rosie is off leash or on leash.  We have been attacked both on and off.  Actually, we have been attacked more on leash than off.  That throws the whole "Leash law" safety theory right out the window.  The truth is... Rosie and I are NOT safe ever.  Doesn't matter if we are in the forest, field or walking up the road.  And the fact that we have a police department that doesn't seem to give a crap half the time doesn't help at all.  I thought they were to "Serve and Protect".  This service dog has kept me out of police cruisers and out of hospitals, and have saved their wallets valuable taxpayers' money.  Maybe they miss roughing me up when I am having a panic attack or problems with active flashbacks.  Maybe THEY want to cover the cost of raising and training my next service dog who may have to arrive earlier than I had planned.  They cost anywhere from $7,000- $20,000.  Service dog maintenance is an extra few thousand dollars a year extra.  Medicaid and Medicare don't help me cover the costs of my service dog even though she has done far more than any paid professional has ever done for me.  I spend everyday and every hour with my service dog.  We have been a team for almost 6 years now.  Our bond to one another is priceless.  Think they can cover that?

Here is a video someone sent me the link to that urges Police Officers to uphold service dog protection laws (the film talks about guide dogs and their visually impaired handlers, but at the end specifies that the protection is extended to other type service dogs.)  I found it a little traumatizing probably because the dog attack from a few weeks ago has still left me and my dog kind of raw and fragile.

I think I am going to make some wanted posters to hang around town.  Maybe someone will help me identify this jerk whose dog attacked my Rosie.  I think it is about time someone pays for something like this to set an example that if your dog is not friendly and/or doesn't listen, keep it leashed.  Heck, keep it muzzled and keep it home!  I can't afford to lose my girl!

Oh, I heard from animal control a week later.  She said she had been on vacation so she hadn't gotten back with me.  She said that they can't find the person whose dog attacked Rosie.  How would they expect to find the guy if the only detail I gave the police was "He had really short brown hair and glasses".  The police didn't want my photo.  He didn't even want to look at the photo.  And later on when I came back with the pamphlet with the Maine SD laws in it, the officer tried to tell me that someone from Augusta had already given them pamphlets.  I knew that they didn't have THIS pamphlet because my friend and I created this so that we had the state SD laws as they are written in the law.  MCRC was kind of loose with their translation of the SD laws.  Both Pamphlets are accessible on the side of this blog under Rosie's Favorite Links.  You can make a copy of it for your own use.

This morning I was supposed to meet with the trainer but her husband was called into work and one of her friend's dogs was having pups so she needed to go over and help.  Great.  Anxiety attack.  My dog runs and hides from me which only makes me feel worse and makes the panic attack get worse and last even longer.  I just don't understand how she can totally love me and then totally fear me in the same second.  I gave her nearly 6 good years of pampering, training and lots of love and praise.  Where is it?  How can one incident totally ruin my service dog?  I just don't get it.  I am so scared that she will have to retire.  If she does, she will not be able to go with me in public and will be totally unhappy.  I wish she understood that.  I wish she knew the importance of alerting me and that I need her to do that.

To see this as a larger image, click on the picture.
Do You Know This Man?


thetroubleisme said...

I'm am so sorry this happened and it's crap that our police aren't taking this stuff seriously.

Anonymous said...

hi , i found your website while doing a google search for laws pertaining to service dogs getting attacked . i am so so sorry you had to go threw this . my SD boondox was attacked while working with me , on leash , in a store . a dog with no leash or collar ran into the store and attacked her . it was awful . it seemed like every single person was trying to help me . the owners where outside , no paying attention to there unleashed , out of control dog . i can totally relate to you on this . i am so sorry the police are not helpful . do you have an update? what happened? did your service dog need to be rehabilitated ? if so , how long did it take ? did she have to retire ? again , i am so sorry you had this happen to you . my heart is with you .