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.