Thursday, April 24, 2014

Attacks on Service Dogs

Some of you probably remember me posting a while back about a woman I know whose service dog was attacked by some crazy woman in a Walmart. The woman kicked the dog for no reason at all.  And before that, about the woman whose service dog had bleach sprayed in its face, also for no reason, in a store.

Well, today another person I know had her service dog kicked on a city bus. The dog was not bothering anyone and was completely under the woman's seat when another passenger, for no apparently reason, as she was passing the seat to get off the bus, reached out and kicked the dog. It was clearly not an accident, as the dog was completely under the seat and she had to really stretch out her leg to do it. 

The woman that kicked the service dog in Walmart did get arrested and I think is being charged with cruelty to animals. The woman that kicked the service dog on the bus today then continued to get off the bus before anyone thought to try and stop her, so I guess she isn't getting in trouble at all.

Personally, I think in addition to being charged with cruelty to animals, they should probably be charged with hate crimes. These are not only crimes against animals, but crimes against the people with disabilities that rely on these service dogs. If the dog is physically injured, or if he becomes psychologically damaged as a result of being attacked by a person for no reason, that would have a devastating effect on his handler's life.

These kinds of stories really scare me.  It's just unbelievably cruel, not only to the dogs, but also to the person with a disability. 

And I don't mean to downplay the cruelty to the dogs.  I am against cruelty to animals.  I don't eat meat, haven't since I was 14, because I think killing animals so we can eat them is cruel.  I rarely eat eggs but when I do, I buy free range eggs from a local farm where I can see how the chickens are treated, because most chickens raised for their eggs are treated in terribly cruel ways.  I watched a documentary about how Wegman's raises eggs and I cried.  (I encourage you to watch the video.  It's only about 30 minutes long and the ending is beautiful.  And I promise it will make you think).  I refuse to visit zoos or aquariums because the way animals are captured and then kept is cruel.  I am against using animals for medical research.

So I think people that attack dogs, whether they are service dogs or not, should be prosecuted.  I think it's terrible that they usually get no jail time, especially for a first offense.  Hurting animals is a terrible crime.  It's immoral.  It's unethical.  It's wrong.

But I think attacking a service dog is another crime, too.  It's also a crime against the person with a disability.  If a person used a wheelchair and another customer in a Walmart came up and did something to damage or destroy that wheelchair, how horrible would that be?  How would that person get home, without their wheelchair?  They'd be stranded in Walmart.

And you know, in many cases, the person that damaged the wheelchair would get in more trouble, legally, than the person that kicked a service dog.  Animals are viewed as property and usually not very valuable property, either.

But service dogs are incredibly valuable.  They cannot be easily replaced.  Hurting a service dog hurts the person that relies on that dog.  I really do think it should be considered a hate crime.

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