Today I was reading through some of my e-mails from a list I am on and noticed this story about PETA. After reading the article at http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/unleashed/2009/01/when-we-first-r.html, I decided that it was time to post my feelings about this organization. I have posted some of my thoughts in an earlier post, but seeing as the above refers specifically to assistance dogs, particularly “seeing eye” dogs, I thought I would post my thoughts here.
PETA seems to think they are the “know-it-alls” when it comes to how we service dog users treat our canine companions. They are constantly writing articles and posts about how some of us mistreat our dogs, how our dogs are made to work all hours of the day, and how we throw them to the curb when they become too old to work or when the various training programs decide that they are not suited for the job. Well, as a “seeing eye” dog user I can tell you that they obviously don’t have their facts straight and obviously don’t know an assistance dog user. Yes, I will admit, that there are some out there who work their dogs a little too much, don’t give their dogs enough time to just be a dog, and don’t pamper them the way they should, but these people are very few and far between.
I have two “seeing eye” dogs in my house; Phoenix who is 12 and has been retired for 3 and a half years and Cessna who is 5 and works less than she sleeps. I also have a foster puppy who will soon become an autism assistance dog and who I know will be treated with as much caring and love as he has with us.
PETA seems to think, according to the link above, that it is okay for someone to use a hearing ear dog who has been rescued from a shelter and trained, but they don’t feel it is right for a dog to be a “seeing eye” dog. I can see their point about how training programs should stop breeding dogs for “perfection” when there are tons of dogs out there in need of a good home, but I take offense to their comment about the blind not being able to care for their dogs the way that a deaf person can. Yes, we cannot see and therefore it may take us a bit longer to figure out our dogs have something like a bladder infection, but we aren’t stupid, we know when our dogs aren’t feeling well and we know that it is important to take our dogs for regular vet checks or ask our friends if they notice anything different. I cannot see well, but I always know, even before my husband who is fully sighted, that something is wrong with one of my dogs. It is usually me who asks him to check them over or asks him whether he notices anything weird about their behaviour.
I agree that there are probably people out there who cannot take care of themselves let alone take care of a dog, but I don’t think all “seeing eye” dog users out there should be placed into the same category. As with pet owners there are good service dog users and poor ones. There are people out there who should not own a pet and people out there who should not be using a service dog. But, if someone notices something fishy about a person’s use of their service dog then they should not hesitate to call the appropriate authorities for assistance, but for those of us who are doing nothing wrong I think people like PETA should just back off and let us keep living the way we want. We aren’t doing anything wrong and we aren’t causing our dogs any harm – contrary to many people’s belief our dogs actually enjoy what they do and would be bored just staying home.
Take what you want from reading my comments, but before judging me think about where your dog is while you are away. Is he or she with you? Or is he or she at home alone?