FRESNO, CA (KMJ) – The deadline is looming as a vote takes place Friday on legislation affecting guide dogs and their handlers in California.
One Fresno woman is calling out for help to convince the governor that Assembly Bill 169 is needed to protect the animals and the people who raise them.
“I know of at least one of two folks in Fresno that their guide dogs were attacked last year,” said Olivia Ostergard.
For the past three years, the bill got nowhere with Governor Brown said Olivia Ostergard who is with Golden State Guide Dog Handlers.
In his veto message, Governor Brown said:
“[This bill] expands the scope of several crimes without commensurate evidence that this is needed. Moreover, the existing provisions allowing compensation for crimes against service dogs have been in place for over three years and have not resulted in a single eligible claim. No claim has been denied because a dog was not in the performance of its duties at the time of a crime-the subject matter of this ‘Replacement costs’ means all costs that are incurred in the replacement of the guide, signal, or service dog, including, but not limited to, the training costs for a new dog, if needed, the cost of keeping the now-disabled dog in a kennel while the handler travels to receive the new dog, and, if needed, the cost of the travel required for the handler to receive the new dog. Accordingly I don’t believe the proposed changes are warranted.”
Ostergard is hoping to finally see AB 169 pass with Governor Gavin Newsom’s approval.
“If a guide dog or service animal or signal dog is on or off-duty or puppies in training and their puppy raisers, if they’re attacked while on or off-duty like relieving or eating or playing or whatever, they can get compensation for their injuries for the animal and or to the owner,” said Ostergard.
Training costs for a guide dog run around $60,000.
An attack may result in loss of income to the guide dog handler, and incur veterinary and other expenses.
AB-169 would broaden the protections to animals and their owners by allowing them the ability to claim medical expenses or loss of wages.
Ostergard said she hopes people will email Governor Newsom to share their support of the bill before his decision expected on Friday, Sept 13.
Click to hear the report by KMJ’s Liz Kern: