[nagdu] Helping guide dogs

Ginger Kutsch GingerKutsch at yahoo.com
Sat Jan 25 12:51:47 UTC 2014

Helping guide dogs

(Excerpt from Pet Tales: Darius graduates to service as a guide dog -
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

January 24, 2014

By Linda Wilson Fuoco 



...There's another guide dog with a Pittsburgh connection who is helping
Darius and other guide dogs. Dusty, a German shepherd, is serving in a way
that no one would have predicted.


In July 2010, Dusty and the puppy-raiser who was walking him on a leash were
attacked by a dog running loose in their neighborhood. Dusty needed 100
stitches to close wounds in his neck and throat. The puppy-raiser also
sustained injuries, including losing a finger tip.


The Seeing Eye worked with Dusty for months, but he could not overcome his
fear of dogs. It would not be safe for him to lead a blind person.


The Seeing Eye has a long list of people waiting to adopt dogs that don't
make the guide dog grade. When he was about 14 months old, Dusty was placed
with a family in northern New Jersey. They re-named him Pouncey for Steelers
center Maurkice Pouncey.


The husband/father is a Pittsburgh native, and the entire family roots for
the black and gold, including the dog, who wears a Pouncey shirt during
televised football games.


"We love Pouncey. He is smart, strong and handsome" and is a wonderful pet,
said the wife/mother in his family. He is still afraid of other dogs, crying
like a baby when he sees them in the veterinarian office, she said. They
continue to work on his fear, avoiding dog parks and walking him on quiet
neighborhood streets where he is unlikely to encounter other dogs.


Word of the horrific attack spurred members of the New Jersey Assembly to
pass Dusty's Law earlier this month. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signed
it into law last week.


"Dusty's Law requires police to respond to a reported attack on a guide dog
team," said Seeing Eye president and CEO Jim Kutsch. The protection extends
to puppies in training.


Forty-four percent of guide dog teams in the United States have been
attacked by other dogs, according to a 2011 survey by The Seeing Eye. A
whopping 83 percent reported "instances of aggressive interference" from
another dog. Most of the reported attacks -- 80 percent -- happened on a
public street or sidewalk, and 74 percent occurred within a 30-minute walk
of the guide dog user's home.


Pennsylvania has a law that specifically covers guide dogs.


"It's not as strong as Dusty's Law, but it's enough to get police response
in the event of an attack, which is very important for the safety of the
guide dog team," Seeing Eye spokeswoman Michelle Barlak said.


The Seeing Eye suggests ways we can make life better for working dogs:


. Do not let your pet near a guide dog, even if your pet is leashed.


. Using retractable leashes in populated areas and leaving your dog tied up
and unattended in public places can endanger a guide dog team.


. Report loose dogs to the local police and animal control officer.


. Offer assistance to a blind handler if you witness an attack or


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