zoom RSS 社説:刺された盲導犬 人の心も傷ついた

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September 05, 2014(Mainichi Japan)
Editorial: Attacks on guide dogs hurt owners, too
社説:刺された盲導犬 人の心も傷ついた

A guide dog for a blind man living in Saitama was injured in July after being stabbed by an unknown assailant. Guide dogs serve as eyes for the blind and support their owners' daily lives. The heartless attack left the dog's owner fearful of venturing outside, and deserves harsh criticism.

The perpetrator apparently harbors ill will and hostility toward visually impaired people. The incident has raised concerns that the Saitama case could trigger copycat crimes. The perpetrator in the latest incident not only inflicted deep physical and psychological damage on the guide dog, but also traumatized its owner. Police should thoroughly investigate the case.

It is suspected that the guide dog, named Oscar, was stabbed while he was accompanying the man on his way to work.

Guide dogs and their owners share a close bond. They undergo training that lasts for nearly a year, and become partners for visually impaired people after going through a training camp with the owner over a period of about one month. Such guide dogs dedicate themselves to supporting their owners while the owners are legally required to look after the dogs in their daily lives in all aspects, including sanitation.

Dogs that can enjoy living with people and gently react to people are selected as candidates to become guide dogs. They are trained not to bark unless their owners are in danger. Oscar did not bark even when he was stabbed.

Since the incident was reported by media outlets, misunderstanding has spread that guide dogs are trained to endure any pain. Some visually impaired people have received complaints from people with unimpaired eyesight that guide dogs are being suppressed. Such a lack of understanding deeply hurts the disabled and is intolerable.

There are also many cases in which people attempt to hit guide dogs or deliberately step on their tails.

The Act on Assistance Dogs for Physically Disabled Persons provides stipulations on guide dogs, hearing dogs, and service dogs, which help people with disabilities in their limbs. Enacted in 2002, the law stipulates that public facilities and public transportation systems as well as private facilities such as restaurants used by members of the general public are in principle forbidden from denying entry to people with such assistance dogs. Nevertheless, there are numerous incidents in which disabled people with assistance dogs are denied entry into such facilities.

In some cases, managers of restaurants and medical institutions cite sanitation as a reason for not allowing assistance dogs to accompany their owners into their facilities. However, assistance dogs have been trained to excrete strictly in designated locations and are kept clean on the responsibility of their owners.

It bears mentioning that the law requires facility managers to accept assistance dogs. Denying assistance dogs entry is tantamount to refusing to admit the disabled people they are accompanying.

The motives behind the cruel attack on the guide dog in Saitama remain unclear. Still, the incident reminds members of the public that general understanding of disabled people and assistance dogs is far from sufficient.

Since the incident, however, organizations that train guide dogs and others supporting handicapped people have received messages from numerous citizens saying they want to help ensure the safety of guide dogs. Such voices will certainly lead to public understanding of disabled people and assistance dogs.

毎日新聞 2014年09月05日 02時40分

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