January 21 – SB 15 Senate Public Hearing Summary
Requiring leashing companion animals in the proximity of a service dog
At the public hearing, 3 supporters cited several instances where dogs (leashed and unleashed) have attacked or distracted service dogs and the service dog/owner were injured (mentally and/or physically). Many towns do not have leash laws and local law enforcement are reluctant to use the state law that requires owners to have dogs under control at all times as an enforcement tool.
Local law enforcement are unaware, or reluctant to enforce the new law making it a misdemeanor to willfully cause injury to a service dog and requires restitution. SB 15 is intended to prevent attacks on service dogs, especially for towns that do not have leash laws – the new restitution law doesn’t prevent attacks, this proposed law will.
Two DOGS representatives did their best to convince Senators that the bill is unnecessary and unreasonable, citing current law and 4 letters sent in from members.
Overall, Senators on the committee were attentive to the fact that laws are on the books requiring owners to control their dog and fining those who willfully cause injury to a service dog. They questioned whether local law enforcement has the ability to use these laws. They seemed concerned about the bill’s impact on sporting activities, competitive events, dog parks and dogs working with livestock. They seemed to understand that a service dog may not be identifiable. But, they are concerned about the safety of the disabled person and their service dog.
There is still time to weigh in with a note to senators why this bill is unreasonable and unnecessary. Please copy firstname.lastname@example.org (DOGS Legislative Coordinator) on the letters as well as any response. The Public and Municipal Affairs Committee will vote a recommendation on the bill within the next two weeks (time unknown).