Monday, February 22, 2010

Dog Attacks Against Guide Dogs: Working for Change in Portland

During the past couple of weeks, dog attacks on our Guide Dogs have been the subject of great concern in the city of Portland, Oregon. One of our dogs in training was attacked by a loose, aggressive dog, and in a separate incident, a working guide was attacked by two dogs that had been left tied to a sidewalk post. Here are links to news coverage of both incidents:
GDB takes dog attacks very seriously, as they often can end a working dog's career due to injuries, stress or fear as a result of the attack. We are happy to report that authorities in the City of Portland have been made aware of the disturbing trend, and are working with us to address the issues.

"We had a very productive meeting with city officials last week," said Oregon Director of Training Brad Hibbard. "Several agencies and departments were represented and I was very happy with the outcome. All of the attendees were engaged in the meeting and the Commander of the Central Precinct made it clear that this has become a priority for his department."

The agencies and departments that were in attendance include:
  • Commander of the Central Precinct
  • Deputy District Attorney
  • Chief Animal Control Officer for Multnomah county
  • Sergeant in charge of the Street Crimes Division
  • Sergeant in charge of the Neighborhood Emergency Response Team
  • Portland Business Alliance (who oversees the Clean & Safe security detail in downtown)
  • Lead officer for the Bike Patrol team
Some of the outcomes from the meeting include:
  • A system was developed for the Police Department, Animal Control, and the District Attorney’s office to work together more effectively on this situation. There was much discussion on which laws are the most effective for the scenario when a service dog is attacked.
  • It was determined that “911” will be called for emergencies; for cases of “interference” (the definition of which can be broad) we have a direct number to the bike patrol officers who are generally be able to respond within minutes.
  • The Portland Business Alliance offered monies to hire an additional Animal Control officer that might be used primarily in the downtown core.
We are also beginning to make contacts with Portland agencies that work with the street kids and their dogs. We want to make sure that we are doing everything we can to educate that community in an attempt to avoid creating an adversarial situation. Many thanks to GDB Board member Ruth Ann Dodson for helping us make the right contacts and supporting this initiative.


  1. I am so happy and glad to read how the Portland government and business community has reacted to this problem. It is great to see that they understand how important a service dog is and the job they do. The government and business community have set a great example for the rest of the country to follow. This comment is being left by a blind person that knows what other people with the same disability have to deal with. Dogs attacking their dogs is something that they should not have to deal with. THANK YOU Portland, OR.

  2. Glad to see you working with local community outreach to educate kids. I work with at-risk teens, most of whom adore our GDB pups! I think they'll be really receptive! :)

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  4. Blogger Shelley said...

    I hope that as much attention will go to addressing the reasons of this basic dog behavior and why dogs attack dogs (usually due to fear and insecurities). Guide dogs are very special, but they are still a part of the dog world and all efforts need to be focused in a humane and compassionate resolution to this problem, not just a implementation of a knee jerk reaction to protecting the Guide dogs as opposed to also protecting 'attacking' dogs. 99% of dogs are rehabilitatable.

  5. I watched the video from the news coverage and have had similar encounters in San Francisco. There have been different reactions from bystanders. Like: Wow, what a good dog (mine of course); I've heard people laugh, YUCK; One time a man started to take pictures of the pair of dogs leashed to a parking meter (he told me that they were unaltered male dogs) that lunged and snapped at my dog; I could keep going, but I'm sure that is enough!

    While it is true that this is not really the dogs fault, their owners must be held accountable! In most states there is no help from the legal system. I am thankful that I live in one with a law that does offer us protection.

    I think too many Americans are dog lovers, but not good dog handlers. Many of these people think that a guide is mistreated, or a slave... What's in it for the dog? This team works and plays everyday! I groom my dog everyday; multiple times per day when it rains. How many dog owners really give their pup what it needs? Things like direction and activity that all canines need to be balanced.

    It's not just the street kids and their dogs. There are residents in the apartment building I live in that only take their dog out to relieve them! Even worse, it's always to the same couple of spots around the block and back home. Some of these dogs are working breeds, and their behavior is not good, to put it mildly. These are folks with jobs and finances, but their dogs are no better off for it.

  6. GDB also participated in a press conference about dog attacks recently:

  7. Hey GDB. Railey, another guide dog on campus, and the handlers are experiencing an exceptional issue. What if our dogs are being antagonized by another service animal? The service animal in question is a rottweiler certified to help a woman who has seizures. However it is ridiculously aggressive towards our guides. Any thoughts?

  8. Hi Tiff -- Sorry to hear you are experiencing difficulties. Might be time to give Graduate Services a call. Here's what our FAQ for Businesses states regarding unruly service animals:

    Q: What if a service animal barks or growls at other people, or otherwise acts out of control?

    A: You may exclude any animal, including a service animal, from your facility when that animal's behavior poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others. For example, any service animal that displays vicious behavior towards other guests or customers may be excluded. You may not make assumptions, however, about how a particular animal is likely to behave based on your past experience with other animals. Each situation must be considered individually.

    Although a public accommodation may exclude any service animal that is out of control, it should give the individual with a disability who uses the service animal the option of continuing to enjoy its goods and services without having the service animal on the premises.