For thousands of people with disabilities in the U.S., the opportunity to work with a service animal is a unique and life-changing gift. That is why the prospect of a service dog and their handler facing danger is especially worrisome. The dog owner and animal alike can be vulnerable to the irresponsible and even violent actions of others.
A woman from Greenwich, Connecticut was matched with her service dog four years ago. Ever since then he has played an important role in her life, helping her be independent while coping with severe vision loss. Unfortunately, now the woman's sense of security and lifestyle as a whole may be compromised by an unprompted dog bite her service dog sustained while doing his job.
Because her dog was attacked by another dog that was off its leash, the woman intends to press charges against the offending dog's owner. If charges are filed against her and she is found guilty, the defendant may be liable to pay the victim dog's vet bills. If necessary, she could even be forced to replace the service dog.
Ever since the dog attack, the victim says her and her dog's life haven't been the same. The service animal was evaluated to determine if he can still perform his duties, and his owner is modifying her routine to protect him from other dogs for the time being.
This is a unique situation, where the dog owner's life and wellbeing may be directly tied to that of her service dog. Since most state and federal laws already recognize the status of service animals in relation to their handlers, it could be argued that the woman was attacked along with the animal.
Source: ctpost.com, "Greenwich woman says service dog attacked in Darien," Lisa Chamoff, March 27, 2013