The Full PETA Interview & Comments From 'L.A. Unleashed'


PETA's Vice President: We don't want to take your dog away

9:41 PM, January 10, 2009

Westminster When we first reported on PETA's request that the USA Network cancel its planned coverage of the Westminster dog show, readers had a lot to say about it.  (So did filmmaker Jemima Harrison, whose documentary "Pedigree Dogs Exposed" prompted the BBC to drop Crufts, Britain's answer to Westminster, from its schedule.)

Many of you repeated the same concern: that PETA opposed all pet ownership and, if it got its way with Westminster, wouldn't stop there.  "PETA is a radical group dedicated to ending all human ownership and use of animals as quickly as possible," said Susan Palius.  "If PETA has their way, there will be no more dogs, cats, in ten years to have as our companions," Cheryl commented.

Lots of you shared your worry that PETA wanted to eradicate pets entirely rather than let them be "enslaved" by humans.  To get to the bottom of that concern, we talked with PETA's Vice President for Cruelty Investigations, Daphna Nachminovitch.  Here's a bit of what we talked about:

Unleashed: In a perfect world where all of PETA's goals had been achieved, would a dog (I have two rescue mutts) live in my house with me?

Daphna Nachminovitch:  Yes! I have two rescued mutts, too (adopted from PETA of course). If you are a kind soul and would be one of the people rescuing dogs in trouble –- just as there are always wars, there are always animals in need of kindness! -- please adopt another one.

Unleashed:  I know PETA is opposed to the consumption of animals for food or the use of their wool, skin, etc. for clothing, so I'm guessing an ideal world would have no need for "working" dogs to herd sheep, cattle, etc., or to be used for hunting.  But what about working dogs that help people, such as guide dogs for the blind, assistance dogs for the handicapped, drug-sniffing dogs, etc.?  I have a bit of background in dog training (using nonviolent methods) myself, and one thing I always marveled at was how some dogs, particularly the more intelligent and energetic types, really seem to go crazy if they don't have a "job" to do.

Nachminovitch:  PETA is all for relationships of mutual respect and benefit between dogs and humans. Unfortunately, not all working dogs have such relationships. Working dogs are sometimes forced to do jobs that are considered too dangerous for humans and that are, therefore, obviously too dangerous for a dog, too.

There will never be a perfect world, but in the world we’re in now, we support some working dog situations and decry others.  Hearing dog programs that pull dogs from animal shelters and ensure that they are in safe and loving homes have our stamp of approval; they live with the family for their entire life, they learn interesting things, enjoy life, and love helping.  On the other hand, we oppose most seeing-eye-dog programs because the dogs are bred as if there are no equally intelligent dogs literally dying for homes in shelters, they are kept in harnesses almost 24/7, people are prohibited from petting or playing with them and they cannot romp and run and interact with other dogs; and their lives are repeatedly disrupted (they are trained for months in one home and bond, then sent to a second, and after years of bonding with the person they have "served," they are whisked away again because they are old and no longer "useful"). We have a member who is blind who actually moved states to avoid "returning" her beloved dog. We feel that the human community should do more to support blind people, and give dogs a break.  A deaf person can see if a dog has a medical issue such as blood in her urine, a blind person living alone cannot, and so on. 

PETA's president had a long working relationship with a program to supply police dogs from the DC Animal Shelter to the Metropolitan Police department because they were humanely trained, and enjoyed a home life with their officers. One of the dogs named after her, Kirk, was with an officer who was shot when President Regan was shot, and he retired with his officer.

Look for more of our conversation with PETA's Vice President for Cruelty Investigations in the days to come on Unleashed.

-- Lindsay Barnett

Related posts:
BBC announces it won't air Crufts dog show
PETA to USA Network: don't air Westminster!
Dog show fans to PETA: leave Westminster alone!
BBC documentarian: "PETA is a bunch of crackpots"
PETA responds to BBC filmmaker's "crackpots" comment

Photo: A Staffordshire Bull Terrier competes in the 2008 Westminster dog show.  Credit: Virginia Sherwood /USA Network.

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/t/trackback/816965/38173770

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference PETA's Vice President: We don't want to take your dog away:

Comments

Again PETA members lie about their goals. They feel that anything they do is all right if it furthers their goals. But we know what their goals are as they have stated them publicly.There have also been several accounts of PETA killing animals when they could not find homes for them. From July 1998 through December 2005, PETA killed over 14,400 dogs, cats, and other "companion animals." That's more than five creatures every day. PETA has a walk-in freezer to store the dead bodies. [11] The stated rationale is that a swift death is better than long suffering, but critics point out that PETA commands significant funds and presumably could have cared for the animals if they so chose.
Mandatory spay and neuter for every living cat or dog means that there will be no more cats or dogs in this country. By making laws around this country that are meant to eliminate all dogs and cats means that the only animals breeding will be the free roaming mix breeds. Not exactly your healthy animal. Killing all feral cats or even reducing their numbers means an explosion in the rodent population. Which translates into an increased risk of exposing humans to the plague. This bubonic plague still exists in the south west. It is criminal to kill or neuter feral cats since they are the biggest predators of rodents. Scientific studies show that feral cats keep the rodent population at bay since 98% of their diet is rodent.
Rodents are extremely difficult to control as they breed many times a year with large litters. Feral cats prevent the rise of diseases and should be protected from the abuse of animal rights activists. PETA has been killing feral cats in Virginia. "Human plague, that dreaded disease of centuries past caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis, is on the rise, in the southwestern United States." You should not be killing off the largest predator of rodents. Plague was introduced into North America via San Francisco, California, in 1899-1900 by shipboard transport of plague-infected rats from Asia. These rats quickly infected native mammal populations, especially ground squirrels, and plague spread throughout western North America. Plague is now most commonly found in the southwestern United States -- in New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona and California. Major risk factors for humans include contact with diseased wild mammals or their infected fleas, feral cats kill rodents thus the host of this flea. The only thing we should be doing with feral cats is dipping them for fleas. We should not be diminishing their numbers as they are the barrier between humans and the plague.

Please pay close attention to what this VP is saying - PETA is very adept at twisting words and concepts - they are for rescuing dogs per se (however they themselves have no shelters and euthanize all the dogs in shelters they gain access to ) they also are for the mandatory spay/neuter of all animals - i.e. they would allow a breeder to have one litter of pupppies but the breeder would then have to spay the sire and dam and ALL the puppies - so in just one generation you would no longer have that line of dogs.
I ask you to talk to people not only at PETA - but at AKC and other groups that promote the welfare of dogs - not the eradication of them as pets.

This is pure PR back-pedaling. Nachminovitch knows that PETA kills more than 90 percent of the adoptable animals that come through its doors. It runs no public adoption shelter -- killing pets is the choice of first resort for PETA. And The New Yorker reported a few years ago that PETA's president had already had a seeing-eye dog taken away from its owner.

If you want to get to the bottom of PETA's dark underbelly, the last thing you should do is ask PETA itself. A $32 million budget is a heck of an incentive to shade the truth.

This woman doesn't know what she is talking about in regards to service dogs (not that I have any respect for PETA, in general). The reasons that service dogs are bred, not randomly pulled out of shelters, is that a service dog must be physically and mentally ready to do their job. If a person is blind or in a wheelchair, they could actually be injured by a dog who suddenly decides cat-chasng is a good idea. They are carefully bred and chosen for stability, trainability, and calmness. I personally knew a dog who stood with his wheelchair bound owner when an earthquake blew out a department store window nearby. He stayed with her ready to help. These dogs are raised by dedicated people, sent out on service and given honorable retirement with good homes. Our next door neighbors had a retired service dog who was loved and cared for until she passed away at 14. There is a waiting list for retired service dogs, as they are wonderful companions. When retired, they usually cannot stay with their service home, as they will try to continue working with the person, and have trouble allowing a new service dog to take over. Trying to take random breeds, with all sorts of backgrounds and triaits would make these programs inneffective, as the dogs would take twce the training and be much less reliable. As for other working dogs in dangerous situations, search and rescue can be dangerous, however it is much safer to send in scent dogs weighing less than 70lbs, than sending in a human to find people trapped in earthquake areas. Those who were trapped in the Cypress collapse here in the Bay Area owe a lot to the Search and Resuce teams. Dogs like to work with people and they do so in many ways. In most settings they are cherished and cared for extremely well. Since PETA spends NO money caring for resucues, or training them for these service program, how would they know the least thing about it? PETA wants your money to pass laws that affect your life. DOn't give it to them.

She does not answer the question outright nor does she say they do not intend to do away with pets, but in a perfect world there would be no pets. NO horses to ride, no dogs, no cats to love, no companion animals at all.
This is PETA's standard indirect, dance around the question without admitting anything. Shelter dogs have problems, health problems, zoonotic diseases and behavior problems. A well bred purebred dog from a responsible breeder from a clean kennel will have very few of these problems if any at all.
So, PETA wants us to adopt shelter dogs no matter how much harm it does to the family or to the dog to be placed incorrectly. Shelter dogs require lots of training and there are not many shelter dogs that have been through the training portrayed on the Animal Planet Channel in the Underdog to Wonderdog show. People should have the right to choose what is best for their family. Shelters have been keeping quiet about zoonotic diseases for some time now. Only the most rigorous shelter can keep these diseases at bay. Most of these diseases can infect humans and inflict real damage. Tell the parents of the little boy who lost his eye to a parasitic worm contracted from their shelter dog to adopt another shelter dog. Until you can ensure that every shelter dog is clean and free of all genetic defects and diseases like you demand from responsible breeders (which are the only ones doing the testing) then you have no right to defame dog breeders especially responsible breeders. To do so means only one thing and that is that you intend to do away with all dogs and cats.

Most guide dog programs allow the blind person to keep their dog after retirement or to return the dog to their puppy raiser. Guide dogs are only kept in harness when working in public and certainly not 24/7. Guide dogs, are off duty when out of harness and most of them play as much as other dogs. Guide dog schools have used dogs from shelters but their success rate is much lower than school bred dogs. I oppose dual use dogs such as having to pull a wheel chair and be a guide dog at the same time. I don't know where Daphna Nachminovitch got her misinformation. I was in a puppy raiser program for 8 years and I know of what I speak..

Wow...this guy from PETA has no right to even have an opinion about assistance dogs....he obviously has never even known an actual assistance dog. Guide Dogs for the Blind, for example, would never take a person's dog away simply because he was too old to work. That dog can become the blind person's pet while they train to be placed with a new assistance dog. Some people choose to give their retired dogs back to their puppy raisers because they either cannot emotionally handle having their aging dog see the new dog doing its work, or they simply cannot handle having 2 dogs, but must have an assistance dog do remain living a normal life.
I am really REALLY sick of PETA making claims and NOT DOING ANY RESEARCH into reputable organizations!

This is absolutely ridiculous. I've been working with my guide dog now for 2.5 years, and I could not love him more. PETA does not seem to understand that:
- Hearing dogs come from shelters. Guide dogs are bred to have incredible temperments, great intelligence, and for specific physical qualities which make them superior guides for blind individuals. Shelter dogs, though used by one or two training centers, would not "cut the mustard", so to speak as their lineage is unknown, and they're histories are a mystery, too.
- Guide dogs are not allowed to be petted or to romp and play with other dogs while they are in their harnesses. These activities would be determental to the partnership that exists between a guide dog and his handler. However, PETA implies that this is cruel treatment. It is not. Guide dogs are not working while they are at home. At home, or in other areas where the handler is comfortable, guide dogs do not wear their harnesses and are free to play, be petted, and run freely. Handlers understand that this "down time", so to speak, is an integral part of their dog's life and do not deny them this playtime.
- Once guide dogs retire, the blind person decides what comes of them. Many blind people decide to keep their retired guide dogs as beloved pets; others give their dogs back to the puppywalkers who first trained them. Very often, the handler places the dog, if not in their own home, with a trusted friend or family member that the dog knows, so that his retired life is not passed with a stranger.
- Blind people are able to adequately care for their dogs. In the example used above, the individual from PETA states that a deaf person would be able to see blood in the urine of their hearing dog. Blind people know their dogs so well; they know the smell of their dog's urine, and would be able to sense any extra effort the dog was making to excrete waste. Blind people bag their dog's feces for this exact purpose; we want to be sure we leave a clean area, but we also are able to detect any changes in weight, amount, smell, or texture of the dog's excrement, which would help us to infer if the dog might be sick. The statement about blind people not being able to adequately care for their assistance dog is like stating that deaf people should not work with hearing dogs. After all, the hearing dog might cry out in pain. A deaf person would not hear this....doesn't seem like the same situation that this representative is suggesting?

PETA needs to get their facts straight and research this opinion. Guide dogs are some of the best loved, best cared for, and most valued animals that I have ever met. These statements are nonsensical and outrageous, and I would suggest that the organization do a bit more research, and maybe, observe several guide dog teams before developing such opinions.

I believe Ms. Nachminovitch is rather misinformed about guide dog programs and guide dogs in general.

1. While it is lamentable that so many unwanted animals are euthanized in shelters, schools that breed their own dogs instead of taking donation dogs do so for very good reasons: A controlled breeding program is more likely to produce dogs of suitable disposition and intelligence. The schools only have so much time and money, and many dogs fail the training programs as it is. There is also an extremely high demand for adoption of "wash-out" dogs and waiting lists of up to two years.

2. Schools teach their pupils to leave the dogs out of harness when not working. This would include the entire time when one is asleep and few people are actually working their dogs 18 hours a day nonstop. The "kept in harness almost 24/7" comment is rather brazen and defies common logic.

3. "People are prohibited from petting or playing with them" is an incorrect generalization. If a guide dog is working and it gets distracted by someone playing with or petting it while it is in harness, this could endanger the blind person's life. On the other hand, most guide dog owners play with their dogs regularly and some allow others to play with their dogs if it is within a controlled environment.

4. I have known guide dog owners who took their guides to dog parks and who allowed their dogs to play with other guide dogs and other family pets. Again, this is not permissable when the dog is working but is okay at other times out of harness.

5. While it is true that guide dog candidates move from puppy raisers to school to (hopefully) a visually impaired person, this does not seem to be to be a particularly onerous situation for the dog and I imagine that many children of divorced parents go through similar things. As for retired dogs being unwanted, I don't know any guide dog users who have enjoyed returning dogs who no longer work effectively. There is no rule that states retired guides must be returned; often they remain with their owners as pets or are placed with other family members. However, I applaud anyone who sends a retired guide back to the school; this means that he loves the dog and recognizes that he can no longer provide the dog the love and attention that it deserves, especially if a new guide dog will enter the picture soon.

Ms. Nachminovitch - you are doing a disservice by presenting such an unfairly slanted and one-sided view of guide dogs.

Ms. Nachminovitch,

Your comments on the Los Angeles Times blog L.A. Unleashed is full of myths and misconceptions. It is unfortunate that you have such views, and I am curious how such ideas have been created for you to promulgate such myths. I am hoping that individuals who read this blog do not buy into these untruths. I find you comments very offensive; however, ignorance and lack of experience of certain situations can cause one to promulgate such atrocities.

I have not only been a puppyraiser I am also a guide dog user. My first guide is 12 years old, and he will be with me until he expires. He lives with two other dogs, and when he was working he had many hours in the day in which to play and relax. One of his playmates belong to my husband, and she is a guide dog as well. She will be 12 years old in a few months and will also be with us until her life has ended. Some individuals may not be as fortunate as us by being able to keep their retired dogs, but these individuals do not need to be bashed when they are giving up a guide that they have loved for many years.

I invite you to visit guide dog users and guide dog schools from across this nation. We will meet in Detroit in July. Please go to www.nfb.org and find details regarding our national convention. You will learn so much about guide dog schools, the dogs, and the users. Most of all, you will learn the immense capabilities of the blind regardless of the mobility tools they choose.

Sincerely,
Merry Schoch

I want to comment on what Ms. Nachminovitch said here. I am working with my second Leader Dog, and she is certainly NOT in harness 24/7. She is much loved and gets plenty of interaction with other people and dogs. She is not allowed to be petted while in harness, because that could create a potentially dangerous situation. My dog loves people and is very distractable, therefore it just does not serve either of us well if I were to allow her to be petted in harness. Let's say I were crossing a busy street, and she saw someone she knew and loved kitty corner across the intersection. If I allowed petting while working, she could get so fixated on getting to that person, that she would disregard oncoming traffic and pull us over to that person. We both could get killed if that happened.

I also certainly know when something is wrong with my dog. I don't have to be able to see blood in the urine; I can smell it. I also notice if her stool changes, as I always pick up. The bond with our guide dogs is so close, we can easily tell if there is something amiss.

I live across the street from a dog park, and I do take my dog there to romp to her heart's content. She loves her time there. She also loves to work. She gets very excited when she sees that harness come out, because she knows we are going to go someplace interesting. She does not like it when I do occasionally leave her at home by herself.

Leader Dogs for the Blind does occasionally take donated dogs from shelters, but it is on a case by case basis. Their temperament has to be right for the job, and they can't have hip or other medical problems that would interfere with their work. As for retirement, Leader Dogs gives you the choice to keep your dog, or find a home for him/her yourself, or you can return the dog to the school and they will help find them a home. As others have said, other schools also do this, and there are long waiting lists for such dogs.

When it came time to retire my first dog, I agonized over the decision whether to keep her or give her to another home. I should also say here that some blind people can't keep their dogs once they retire, because they live in apartments that do not otherwise allow pets. They make an exception to allow a guide dog in because it is a service animal, but the ADA laws no longer apply once the dog is no longer performing service. I ultimately decided to find another home for my first Leader Dog, because she was at that point quite elderly (over 14), and I was living alone and working full time. I could not provide her the supervision or stimulation she was used to, nor did I think it was fair to her to leave her at home all day by herself. She would have to have been crated because of incontinence issues, which I didn't think would be fair to her either. I had a very hard time finding a home for her, but eventually I did, at a place called Home for Life. You can read about them at www.homeforlife.org. It is a wonderful place, and they looked after my dog extremely well until she passed away.

I think Ms. Nachminovitch's statements about guide dogs were based on stereotypes and common misconceptions, and she only perpetuated them by stating them in this interview. I think she should have gotten her facts straight before she said anything.

I don't think you realize that your cause of the month is my life. My guide dog gives me freedom and indepedence. In return I give her love, affection and provide excellent care. How dare you think that you know what all guide dog users do, or are like. We are as different as all people. My guide dog is my eyes, I will not give her up just becaue you don't like it. I would not expect anyone to give up anything just because I didn't approve of it, but I am not under the illusion that the world revolves around me!

I am amazed at PETA's willful blindness concerning the situations in which guide dogs live and work. Despite repeated information to the contrary, supplied by people who do actually live and work with guide dogs, PETA officers continue to promulgate the misconceptions that guides have no life outside of the harness, until they are discarded by their blind guardians once their working days are through. Even a minimal amount of semi-competent investigation would inevitably yield the conclusion that PETA's remarks are patently false. I share my home and my life with two guides--one working, one retired. Both are happy and healthy. My working guide spends at least as much time chasing her kong as she does in harness. She and my retired guide play together, and they have other dog-friends as well. If you want to object to the fact that most guide-dog training programs breed most of the dogs they use, I can respect that. But the rest of it...it's getting old.

Reading this article really upset me. these people at peta really need to get their facts straight.
I don't wanna say the same thing everyone else has regarding their misrepresentation of guide dogs and the way they're handled, but what peta is saying is a complete lie.
my guide dog is not in harness 24/7, she's only in harness when she's working. when we go out somewhere. She enjoys her work. if we go a few days without working, she wags her tail, walks quickly and shows an eagerness and an excitement to be working again. she has a passion for her work just as any human would and I would not want to deny her that right. it's what she was bred to do, and she loves it.
most guide dog schools don't take shelter dogs because, as others have pointed out, they breed their dogs with specific temperment requirements that not just any old shelter dog could fill. a dog with the wrong temperment or who is highly distracted could cause harm to the blind person. Though not all of these specially bred dogs make it as guide dogs, they are either put into other careers or just kept as pets. They are never thrown out on the street and they are always raised in loving homes no matter what happens to them.
people are not allowed to pet, feed or play with guide dogs when they are in harness because again, they could get distracted and harm the blind person, but when they are off duty, they are just regular dogs. I play with, and let other people play with my dog all the time when she is not working. She gets no shortage of love and attention.
as for our abilitities to care for our dogs, like someone else pointed out, we can do it just fine. We get so in tune with our dog that we know when something is wrong. and if we're not sure, there are sighted people who can take a look. guide dogs are probably better cared for than most regular house pets. they have routine yearly vet checkups and their handlers are always making sure everything is okay.
I am very offended that peta assumed that just because I'm blind I can't care for my dog correctly.
I hope next time a question like this is asked, peta will have done their research and will be able to give truthful answers.

I must respectfully wonder how you got the information we keep our dogs in harnesses 24 7. That simply isn't true. My dog is in harness about 2 to 8 hours a day.

also, you state that the dogs do not get to romp and play with other dogs. Well, most of our dogs do. My dog has several best friends who are canine and he has two feline siblings right here at home and they get along. he romps a lot with them and with other dogs and we play and he has human friends with whom he plays.

You say a blind person cannot tell if blood is in the urine. There's a smell that's different. Remember, we have our other senses. somehow, you believe blind people are cruel, insensitive, and pitiful and helpless. We are not.

I was not raised to be pitiful and helpless and most of us weren't. You and I know different sets of blind folks, I'm afraid.

Our guide dogs have many wonderful experiences and turly love what they do. You should see my dog prance into his harness and how excited he becomes. You should see him at church when we sing certain songs and he gets up and "dances"--well, you know, in his own way and how he brings smiles to people's faces. You may ask how I know he brings smiles to people's faces--because they tell me and because I hear sounds of joy from them.

I do not allow people to pet or talk with my dog while he is working but when he is not working which is most of the time, he has many friends who pet, hug and frolic with him.

You say hearing dogs live with a family. Do you not think blind people have families? or do you think blind people live alone all the time? Blind people marry or don't, we raise kids, and, we can do these things without sight.

I am totally blind and live a very enriched life. I do not need sighted caretakers to tell me about my dog's urine or other things--things I can judge for myself. My dog also gets good veterinary care and I take him for the slightest question I may have about something.

Again, I don't know who the blind people are ou know but they are not like the ones I know nor are they like me.

Margo Downey

As usual PETA portrays worst-case owners/organisations as typical and tries to use it for their own agenda.

If you've really seen a guide dogs organisation try to dictate what will happen to a retired dog, why not just lobby that organisation to adopt the more compassionate principles of the majority? Oh sorry, I forgot...

... that won't bring any revenue or generate any headlines will it???

As for denying your groups long held beliefs - too late, the cat's already out of the bag on that one (or more likely in the PETA freezer).

Ms. Nachminovitch needs some education about guide dogs. I've been a puppy raiser for nearly 10 years and have followed the lives of some of the pups I've raised. The 24/7 harness comment is pure baloney. Every dog should have the love and devotion and attention a guide dog has. Of course, the public can't be petting the dogs in harness. They're WORKING! Distractions like that can be very dangerous for the dog and the handler. It would be like poking the brain surgeon in the ribs while she's performing surgery. Get a grip Ms. Nacminovitch. Go for FACTS, not supposition that fits your warped image. You need education on this topic and then I would hope you'd have the good sense to retract some of your terribly inaccurate comments.

Many people have already stated quite adequately for me, in much nicer ways than I would have expressed myself, the utter outrage I feel at reading this slanderous misinformed article.
As a blind person working my first guide dog, I can refute every single point peta has made on this issue. Guide dogs are *NOT working 24/7. We care for, and play with, and bond with our dogs and, when it will not endanger our safety, let others interact with our dogs as well.
After retirement, the person with the first choice as to their dog's future is the handler. And I cannot think of any handler who would willingly give up their guide dog after it has been their constant companion for years. The reasons for which we may return a dog to the school are varied, but they are always in the dog's best interest. Would you blatantly give up a child after a number of years because you got sick of caring for it? Just as I would never abandon my child with wreckless abandon, I would never, under any circumstances, throw my dog aside when she is too old to work without careful planning for her future and welfare. I dislike when people make misinformed statements and wish that this sort of thing would not occur as often as it unfortunately does.

As a person who lives near PETA's Home Office I can tell you that PETA CANNOT house dogs in that office building. It is in the middle of a busy downtown area, fronted by a busy 8 lane road and backed up by other office buildings. There are no grassy areas for the dogs to play or romp, nor any sign of indoor/outdoor kennels. How on earth can that be considered humane to those animals? I show dogs and fear for their lives when showing in and around this area, as PETA has been known to come into the show site and release dogs from their crates. Some of these sites are outside and by releasing dogs from their crates in strange and unfamiliar territory can cause great harm to these dogs. What does that say about PETA.

“In the end, I think it would be lovely if we stopped this whole notion of pets altogether.”
Ingrid Newkirk, Newsday, Feb 1988

If this isn't wanting to take our dogs (and cats) away I don't know what is. PETA as usual is lying through their teeth. If they were up front about their intentions no one would send them money. Same goes for H$U$.

L.A. Unleashed: PLEASE stop giving PETA a platform and instead use this forum for productive dialogue that benefits animals and people!! This organization is as radical and unAmerican as can be. The best thing that we can do is ignore them completely. The media is so desparate to create controversy on every single subject that it's giving a platform to an organization that is the equivalent of the Unibomber. IGNORE THEM they are not part of a productive society.

Well... The only thing I can say is that this is a stupid coment from someone who doesnt know NOTHING about Dogs and specially about Guide Dogs... As I'm writing this comment my Dog is laying beside me without arness, leash or other kind of accessory... And he is like that when I'm home, when I'm at work and in many other situations. And of course he is allowed to run and play with other dogs whenever its safe and I allow Him to be petted wen I think it doesnt have influence on His job.
Its the same thing as with children... Noone lets their Kids run and play free if there is a risk to their Life or to their safety the same way no parent lets their kids talk or accept things from a complete stranger. People should use their Brains and think before telling thins like the ones I read on this article... But its not only this poor Man's fault... Its also the Journalist's fault because they probably didnt check things before publishing this kind of news...

There will never be a perfect world, but in the world we’re in now, we support some working dog situations and decry others. Hearing dog programs that pull dogs from animal shelters and ensure that they are in safe and loving homes have our stamp of approval; they live with the family for their entire life, they learn interesting things, enjoy life, and love helping. On the other hand, we oppose most seeing-eye-dog programs because the dogs are bred as if there are no equally intelligent dogs literally dying for homes in shelters, they are kept in harnesses almost 24/7, people are prohibited from petting or playing with them and they cannot romp and run and interact with other dogs; and their lives are repeatedly disrupted (they are trained for months in one home and bond, then sent to a second, and after years of bonding with the person they have “served,” they are whisked away again because they are old and no longer “useful”).

There are several issues in this statement I would like to address. First of all, there are some “rescue” dogs that are pulled and successfully trained and placed with a blind or visually impaired person; however, often times these dogs have no known medical or behavioral backgrounds. Many people who are looking for a pet for their home are interested in the history of their perspective pet and ask questions relating to the parents, grandparents, welping homes, and other information about the history of their pet. The same thing is true of a guide dog training program. Knowing the history of the dog is an important part of making sure the dog is suitable for the expectations of a guide dog. Secondly, dogs are not kept in harness 24/7. Typically they have a certain amount of time each day they are working and are expected to act professionally. This is no different then the way we all as humans work. When we go to work we are expected to be on our best behavior, but on our time off we can go out to a movie, take our children to the park, have a picnic in our back yard, or doo whatever it is that makes us happy. It is no different for a working dog. Out of harness they are loving dogs that get to play ball with their families, play in a fenced back yard, and go to the dog park to socialize with other dogs, and curl up on the couch with the ones they love to watch television. That doesn’t sound too bad, and the dogs are usually the most happiest dogs in the world because they get the best of both worlds. They get to go places that other dogs aren’t allowed and are treated with the most love on their down days. Finally, although many dogs are sent to live with others after retirement, this is not an easy decision or time for the handler. Often times, retiring a service dog is emotionally challenging for the handler. There is nothing written in stone that says that the handler must give up a dog upon retirement. That decision is left up to the handler and is many times made with the best interests of the dog in mind. If you had to retire from a job you absolutely loved, would you want to watch your successor do the things you enjoyed most about your job? Of course not, why is it that dogs are asked to endure the stress and the pain of seeing another dog take their place and do the things they once enjoyed? I retired my dog guide after four years of service and decided to keep her in my home as a well loved member of my family. Anyone who knows me and my dog would say that I love her a great deal and only want her to be happy. In my dogs case, she was the one that decided that guiding wasn’t what was best for her, so watching another dog do the things she used to do wasn’t an issue, but if it was, I would’ve been forced to make a heart breaking decision and send her to live with another family who would honor to love her, cherish her, and care for her for the rest of her days. I applaud those who do make the decision to send their dog back to the school or to live with another person, because they know they are not capable of caring for the needs of the dog and the dog would be better cared for in another home. This is very similar to giving up a baby for adoption. Because you made the decision to allow another family to raise your child, you never forget how your life was changed by the birth of that child. The same thing is true of those who have to give up their retired guide dogs. Their love for that dog is never diminished and the memories of the wonderful times spent with that partner is always treasured and reflected upon during conversation.

“We feel that the human community should do more to support blind people, and give dogs a break...”

Many guide dogs love their work and actually look forward to the outings they have with their human partner. They don’t want to stop working, so why should we force them to stop working because an “animal rights” group feels working is cruel. My guide dog walks down the street all the time with her tail wagging and a happy jump in her step. When I get the harness out and she knows she is going to get to go somewhere, she is at the door with her tail wagging and a big grin painted on her face. She is very happy to go with me, and if there was ever a day when she didn’t want to go, I would get out my cane and let her stay behind. I would make that decision because I love her, not because I am a cruel person that feels she should always be willing to work. The truth is that I am not always willing to work, and I don’t expect that from my dog either.

“A deaf person can see if the dog has a medical issue like blood in the urine, a blind person cannot.”

Although a blind person can’t see what a sighted person can, there are other clues to medical conditions like changes in the dogs behavior, appetite, or odor that would alert a blind person to a problem. If the blind person suspects there are something wrong with their dog, they have the option to have a sighted friend or family member come over and take a look at the dog to see if there are any visual signs of illness that are missed by the lack of vision. Often times the bond between a guide dog and their handler is very close; therefore, the handler is able to pick up on changes in their dog’s behavior that can give them the first clue to a medical condition allowing them the opportunity to make an appointment at the veterinarian for treatment. The same thing could be said about a deaf person that has sight, but not hearing. What if they were walking along and the dog began to yelp in pain because the cement was too hot, too cold, or hurt their feet. Would the deaf person be able to hear that? NO, but they would use the gait of the dog, how the dog is acting differently, and other clues to know that there is something wrong and they need to investigate to find out what the problem is and offer some relief for their dog.

I believe that better research should have been done by PETA. Dogs are not kept in harness 24/7, they are allowed down time where they are allowed to be dogs and play and get affection, and number if the dog didn't want to do the job it wouldn't. Many schools do not take away the retired dog after it has completed it's service. Handlers have the option to keep them or give them to family members so they stay close. These dogs get to see the world, be with their person all the time which is what any dog wants and for the most part live a great life. Do your research!I

In the past 37 years, it has been my great joy to have the friendship and help of 4 guide dogs from the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind in Smithtown, NY. I have met many blind people who have guide dogs from many different schools and the perspectives on guide dogs set forth in this article are off-base and hurtful to a ppopulation of people who are ten times as likely to be unemployed and suffer from bigotry and misunderstanding on many levels. Guide dog schools initially did use shelter dogs, but began breeding their own dogs in order to provide dogs with more consistent intelligence, trainability and desire to work. Guide dogs are capable of learning the exact locations their handlers wish to go by voice command. My first two guides knew over 100 destinations in the Philadelphia area. Even the busiest guide dogs are not in harness more than a few hours a day. Many people take the harness off when they are at work, and I don't know anyone who uses their guide dogs in harness in their own homes. PETA fosters the impression, now becoming a serious issue for many of us, that if a blind person does not allow someone to pet their dog, that the dog is never pet at all. For our own safety as well as for the sake of the dog, the schools teach us not to allow anyone to pet the dog while he or she is in harness. At home or among friends and family, the dogs receive even more love and affection than most dogs. Being sighted doesn't give total strangers the right to userpt the autonomy of a blind person. Upon seeing nonguiding canines with people they don't know, most people have the courtesy to ask if they can pet the animal and then abide by the person's decision. Blind people, however, often encounter people who start petting a working dog without even saying hello to the blind person. When they are told to leave the dog alone, they become angry. I recently heard one woman mutter, "What? You're not even allowed to pet the bleeping dog! Who the bleep does she think she is anyway?"

I am appalled by PETA's stand on dog guides. Obviously Ms. Nachminovitch lives neither in the real world nor in personal contact with any individual who is visually disabled who has a dog guide. If either were true, she would not have any such stand on the subject!

My late husband was blinded at age nineteen. Not long after he went through rehabilitation training and instruction in orientation and mobility, he chose to accept a dog guide. His first such partner was LindaDog, a wonderfully trained German Shepherd. They worked together for eight years, which is a fairly common length of time for such a partnership. Unfortunately, LindaDog developed hip displacia as she aged, which is not that uncommon a condition to find in the breed. His second dog, Phillippe, was a doberman pinscer who'd been raised as a show dog and trained in obedience, where he'd earned his Companion Dog status from the AKC. Unfortunately, his mistress's health made it necessary for her to give up her dogs, and she donated Phillippe to be trained as a dog guide, which unfortunately proved to be a profession for which he was ill suited, as he proved to have an uncertain temper with children. He was returned to his school where he was placed with an older couple who did not have young children or young grandchildren, where he lived most happily. Two more dog guides followed Phillippe, both of them well loved by all.

The idea that once a dog guide the animal is not allowed to be a dog is absurd. Nor does it live in its harness twenty-four/seven! As for the idea that the dog cannot receive love, attention, petting and so on or is not allowed to play--how pathetic that such misinformation is propogated by such as Ms. Nachminovitch and her group!

The dog is in harness while working, and often while in public places where its behavior must be exemplary. At home or in familiar places where its services are not needed, the harness comes off, and at that point the dog is fully allowed to be a dog! One of my favorite memories associated with dog guides is of my husband's recently acquired last dog guide Laddie, my best friend's dog guide Titus, and our pet mutt Billy (adopted from a shelter, Billy appeared to have a fair amount of Irish setter to him, and perhaps some golden retriever as well), all lying on their backs, their heads lying together, playing with one another, while our little pomeranian pup ran around them, joining in their play, running up and pulling on an ear or jowl then bouncing off to do the same to the next dog, all four dogs thoroughly enjoying themselves.

WHEN working, the dog is expected to be on duty, and so the general public is asked NOT to seek to pet the dog, as it might prove a serious or even dangerous distraction. If one has curiosity about the dog, however, most dog guide users are perfectly willing to answer your questions--as long as they are not on the way to work or an important meeting, of course. Feel free to approach them when they have stopped their travel and ask your questions. Some find that allowing their dogs to be petted at times they are not directly working but still in harness is acceptable; others, particularly those with younger, less experienced guides, may have learned, however, that allowing their dogs to be petted while in harness breaks the dog's concentration, so they may deny your request to pet the dog. Do not be offended--they are only seeking to reinforce the fact this dog IS a working dog.

In my experience, few dogs are better appreciated and loved by their masters or mistresses than a dog guide. The relationship between these working partners usually becomes very close, and the affection shown to the guides is marvelous, and particularly when the dog is off duty. Many, when a dog becomes too old or infirm to continue as a dog guide, will keep the retired dog and spoil it marvelously; but usually find that if they don't put the harness on the dog on occasion and go for at least a short walk to the corner or back the retired dog becomes jealous of the new working guide.

A dog guide LOVES its work, and cannot think of much else it would rather do than to guide its master.

Yes, they are usually--but not always--specially bred, and in the States labs and golden retrievers have become the preferred breeds, as these are breeds in which calm intelligence, warm dispositions, and attention to detail are common. By breeding their own dogs, the schools do their best to encourage such traits while working to eradicate from the lines of their dogs such traits as hip displacia and other genetic flaws. In England the schools often prefer hybrids of mixed lab and golden heritage, finding that such breedings appear to be best at producing excellent dog guides.

But to assume that show dogs and dog guides are deprived of their right to be dogs first and foremost is downright silly! Please, if Ms. Nachminovitch and her organization do not stop with such foolishness as declaring dog shows and training as dog guides as inhumane. I most sincerely hope your paper will ignore PETA in the future, as obviously she is an ignorant pundit with not a snail's understanding of how much these dogs LOVE what they do!

I’d like to cover a topic which has not been addressed yet, and that is PETA’s objection to guide dogs, yet their support of pets. People have to go to work and can’t take their pets with them. Many residences don’t have doggy doors, so these pets are forced to hold their urine and feces for eight or more hours a day. They may not have other companions and are either confined inside or outside in the elements. Guide and other assistance dogs, on the other hand, are with us 24/7 (though they’re not in harness 24/7), and we can see to their needs right away. The companionship is calming for both human and animal. I’m certainly not advocating for being against pets, but my point is that any human/animal relationship has pros and cons.

I also want to emphasize that as the wife of a guide dog user and a guide dog handler myself, we definitely allow play at our house and other trusted environments. Our dogs play with each other and other trusted human and animal friends.

Finally, the headline says PETA doesn’t want to take the dog away. However, because they are not in support of guide dogs, I think I’ll continue to be very watchful whenever I hear animal rights people who speak against my dog having to work. If anyone ever does try to take my dog, I’ll do whatever I can to get my wonderful friend back!

Wow ... I can't believe this slanderous article was actually allowed to be published.
I myself am a guide dog user who took great offense in reading this article. I take great care of my guide. I groom her, play with her, and walk her a whole lot more than a lot of other people do. I pick up after her and make certain she's healthy.
My dlg as been well bred to handle the rigors of guide dog life. She is mentally and physically in top shape. Also, the guide dog schools do not just use bred dogs, although, they are a significant part of the program. Dogs from shelters have been used as well, but not all of them, simply because a lot of them do not have the physical stamina or the ability do work as a guide.
If I were a dog, I would adore being a guide dog. Most dogs are left at home to wait for their master while they're at work. My guide dog comes with me everywhere. Most dogs love having things to do with and for their master, whether it be competition obedience, fetching, etc. When my guide does her job in harness and locates a door or stops at a curb, she knows she's done a great job. I praise her, kibble her, and she wags her tail, oh so proud of herself.
The statement that these dogs are in harness all day is obviously a misunderstanding. My dog is let off harness the moment we come home. She's let off harness, actually, the great majority of the time, especially when I'm not in school. She plays a lot, and I allow her to romp with me. I do let my dog play with other dogs, but never in harness because it can become a distraction to her and can hurt the both of us. For instance, f we were crossing the stret and she saw a little dog way on the other side of the intersection, she would be distracted and try pulling me across the way. THat would get us both hit by a car. These standards are set up for the safety of the team, not just the handler.
And, regardig the comment made about having to ship our guides off when they're too old is really, really misinformed. When guide dogs retire, the handler has the option of keeping the dog, or sending him or her to a family member's house or their puppy raiser's home where they will be happy and will no longer have to concern themselves with working when they are physically unable. if guiding causes too much stress on a dog, it can have some physical and mental repercussions, which is why they are retired. I personally would not keep Astoria, my guide after she retires because I know she is a working dog through and through and would hate staying at home while I went off to work one day without her. She is a high energy dog and needs that mental stimulation. I give it to her through guiding. So, when she retires, I will decide who can give her that mental stimulation that is not so rigorous, and i will give her over to someone who she knows and loves. I know she will forget about me, especially if she is happy with her new master where I can visit her and love her at a distance. It just wouldn't be nice to have another guide who I will take with me everywhere when she, my faithful companion over the years has come with me everywhere.
Most guide dog handlers are smart enough to make that hard decision of what is best for the dog.
THe next time PETA releases any kind of statement, I suggest they research it well by maybe talking to a great number of guide dog users they do not know, and by speaking to guide dogschools. It just prooves how ignorant they are by releasing these statements.

This blog needs to do a little simple research. For example, if you go to the PeTA web site, they tell you this:
"We at PETA very much love the animal companions who share our homes, but we believe that it would have been in the animals' best interests if the institution of "pet keeping"—i.e., breeding animals to be kept and regarded as "pets"—never existed. "

This is at >> http://www.peta.org/campaigns/ar-petaonpets.asp and is the FIRST SENTENCE of "PeTA on Pets".

As Rachel Maddow says, "Use the Google" before you write. And stop listening -- and publicizing PeTA lies.

PBurns

Is PeTA rep Daphna Nachminovitch doing a disservice to guide dog teams in the United States or free publicity? I admit when I first read this article I was shocked and apalled and wrote Ms. Nachminovitch to ask a few questions and voice concerns over the misinformation on service and guide dog teams operating in the United States. Today however I see the comments to this thread and can't help but smile. An article that throws a grenade at service teams is getting pelted with corrections.

Could we ask for anything more than truth bombing?

I have been using guide dogs for more than 40 years. Xanto is my fifth dog and i have rarely seen a happier dog. He comes running when I pick up the harness in the morning. The harness is hardly on 24-7. Around the house he is not in harness. I have lost count of how many toys he has, and we have another dog who loves to play with him. As I write this, he has a ball in his mouth, and I am pausing to scratch his ear which he absolutely enjoys. Just think how many dogs have to stay at home almost all of the time. Xanto gets to go practically anywhere with me. Dogs if dopted from shelters have also had multiple homes so the argument about guide dogs being raised by one person, then trained by someone else and then going to a third person just doesn't make sense as a valid argument. Since most dogs in shelters were not born there and then end up being adopted we hope. When Xanto retires he will most likely live here. If for some reason he can't, it certainly would be possible to find another home for him, but that would be a last resort.

Hello my name is Maurice. I am native Southern Californian attending grad school at a university of northern Colorado in the educational technology department and a proud guide dog handler, PETA's public pronouncement makes it look like blind persons abuse their dog guides and simply because of the fact that we are blind that we can't figure out if our guide is not feeling well is ludicrous. I have been blind all of my life and never had a problem with figuring out if my pet, as a child or an adult handler, if my guide requires veterinary care (I know my dog well enough to know when he is not feeling well) and I don't keep my guide on tie-down 24 hours a day. He is in harness only when he is working. Most of the time he is walking around my apartment looking for dog toys to play with, or getting a tug toy while I am reading school work. If I am listening to a text book it helps my concentration if we are playing tug sometimes. When I am not crossing a street, I sometimes allow him to be petted if I am asked. I challenge someone from PETA to spend some time at guide dogs for the blind In San Rafael California or any other guide school in America and find out the truth about blind persons and guide dogs instead of telling outright lies. P.S. my parents live in Pasadena and I come back to Southern California every holiday season and have no problems nor do I have problems while I am here at school in Colorado. In closing please take the time to learn the truth about guide dogs and their blind handlers, and stop using blind persons to get your message outH.

Your ideas about guide dogs for the blind are ridiculous.
1.The dog is not kept in harness 24-7, but only when he is ne is working them when out and about. when the team gets home, the dog is taken out of harness and becomes a regular dog with treats, play-time and grooming. Most guide dogs are better kept than some human children!
2. Guide dogs have to be given back to the shcool when they are too old to be working. I have kep my retired guidedogs until they died of natural causes. The only time they are usually returned to a shcool is if the owner is not allowed to keep a "pet" dog in their dwelling. the only time the dog is returned to the school is if the woner dies and no family member wants the dog or if there has been an incident where cruelty to the dog is suspected. (This happens very rarely as the schools are very strict about screening out such people.) when a dog is retuned to the cscool, the school places them with anothe owner and the dog beomces a pet.
3. guide dogs LOVE to work. all 3 of my guides have run to where the harness is stored, even when I'm not going to take them out!
I hope I come back as as someone's guide dog affter I die.
by the way, dogs which are bred at the various guide dog schools around the country often do not "make" it as a guide, so they are put out to work in other dog acceptible jobs such as drug dogs or dogs for diabetics or ambassador dogs. If you really understood gogs you would understand they love "working". Even pet dogs decide upon their own job such as guarding the house from mailmen and other such people or guarding the kids or protecting the yard!
Patricia Wolf
temple city, CA

It is uninformed ideas like this that make me very sad. I am a guide-dog user and know the many falasies in this post. I love my dog very much, and she is a part of my family. She is most definitely not in harness 24-7. As soon as we get home and sometimes at other familiar areas like family members' places, she is not in harness. Her harness is removed before my coat. When out of harness, she romps, plays and is petted like any dog. She loves my family and especially loves playing with and being petted by children. She even gets to run and play with other dogs she knows. In fact, we live with another dog, a guide-dog, and they are the best of friends. They play together, run together and nap together.
When the harness is on, she is not allowed to run and play but under some circumstances, she can be petted. She is petted by me as praise for good work and just for nothing, too, because I love her. Sometimes, the public is allowed to pet her in harness, but that is my call. People must ask if they can pet her before doing so and understand if I say no it isn't to be mean, it is for our safety.These rules are to ensure our safety, not to be mean. In fact, it would be more cruel to let her be petted and play in harness because this could cause not only me but her to be hurt, say by a passing car.Distracting or petting a guide-dog while in harness is like covering someone's eyes while they are driving. It is very dangerous for both the dog and the person.
Further, my dog loves to work. When she had a leg injury, a limp which I could not see but could feel, she did not work. She stayed home and rested on one of her many beds and was able to play with her many toys. But, she was very unhappy during this time. She got very stressed out and followed me around the house for fear I would leave her. She even got an upset stomach which subsided as soon as she could go out with me again. So, this shows they are not put to do work they hate but rather are doing things they love.
One more thing, dogs are not taken from their handlers once they retire, and the retirement is for the good of the dog, not out of selfishness. They can stay with their handler, be placed by the handler with a loved and trusted family member or friend or they could go back to the loving homes of their puppy raisers. Only if all these options are exhausted do they go to a different home. By the way, all these individuals with guide-dogs in their homes, be it puppy raisers, handlers or adopted families, go through a screening process to ensure the dogs would be in a safe, loving environment. Further, guide-dog handlers go through strenuous training which includes how to care for our dogs and to identify any health concerns. Our dogs are likely more healthy than many pets because of the terrific care they are given.
I wish that people would be better educated before they start spreading this nonsense and consider how terrible it makes such a wonderful, loving relationship look. The relationship I have with my guide-dog is nothing like what was depicted here, and I hope everyone with common sense can realize this. Yes, she is my guide-dog, but she is so much more. She is my friend, my tug-of-war partner, my cuddler at night or anytime she wants to, my baby and so much more that I cannot put into words.

It’s high time that someone spoke out against the atrocious way guide dogs are treated. I know that my guide dog is particularly abused: for instance, right now she’s out of harness (as all guide dogs are when they’re at home with their handlers), lying on the rug amidst her dozen or so toys and bones, abandoning the one she’s currently chewing only to happily greet and receive attention from other human members of the household, or to romp and play with the other canine ones. She also expresses her extreme displeasure at working by running to me, leaping up in the air, and turning excited circles whenever I do get out the harness. Her feelings of oppression are understandable, since working means that she gets to be with me all day, travels to all sorts of places like the coffee shop or the college campus or the beach or the dog park, and is constantly mentally stimulated in the way that her breed requires.

The point about blind people being unable to detect blood in a dog’s urine is also a great one, but unfortunately the fact that a Deaf person could not hear a dog’s yelps or cries of distress was overlooked—now that it’s been pointed out, though, I’m sure PETA will reconsider its position on Deaf people being suitable dog handlers. Remember, too, that a wheelchair user might not have the mobility to properly attend to a dog’s health…. You know, following PETA’s reasoning to its logical conclusion, I think the organization should immediately get behind a law that would ban all people with disabilities from owning any kind of animal. After all, it’s not like people with disabilities might, say, know their animal well enough to be able to determine if it’s ill, or have developed alternative techniques to detect and respond to emergencies. No, they’re obviously completely incapable of caring for another creature, and we must protect all animals from them!

Finally, I read with sadness about the blind PETA member who moved out of state to avoid having to retire her dog. What’s strange is that almost all reputable guide dog schools offer their blind consumers the option to own their guide dog, thus giving those consumers control over the timing of retirement—as well as whether they will keep the dog (which many do), or place it with family, friends, or another loving home. I can only assume this poor woman either went to a disreputable program or to the one tiny school I know of which does force its blind consumers to retire the dog at a certain age (and which also only serves blind people within its own state). That school clearly doesn’t think blind people are capable of making those kinds of caregiving decisions for themselves…wait, but isn’t that what PETA thinks, too? Now I’m just totally confused! Quick, somebody check my dog’s urine for me!

This is the most insulting article I have read in a while. I am legally blind and attended Indiana School for the Blind. I know several people who have guide dogs, and take better care of their animals then most people take care of their pets! The statements about guide dogs being in harness 24/7 are ridiculous! The dogs are well loved, and given lots of freedom and affection, and to most guide dog owners, they are family! The guide dogs are not "disposed of" when they are elderly, most are allowed to stay with their owners and live out a happy life! The only way someone could really believe this article is true is if they have never been around a guide dog and their owner! I suggest the lady who wrote this does some research...

I have a lot of respect for this paper in general, but am slightly disappointed to see it publish this. I am blind and work with a guide dog, and can personally attest to the fact that Peta is completely off the mark here. My dog is one of the most loved creatures I know (she is completely spoiled by many people) and she is in a harness for perhaps six hours a day. She also really loves her job and I believe takes pleasure in guiding me around obsticles. In return for her hard work she gets good runs at the dog park every day, and plenty of treats and praise. Peta is a radical organization, and I have absolutely no respect for them.

I should add to my previous comment that I read the LA times from cover to cover every day, and I have a tremendous amount of respect for your coverage of so many issues. I am disappointed to see such a reputable news organization publishing Peta's extremest views. I would like to urge you to have a conversation with a guide dog user and publish it here in order to present a more balanced and accurate view, just as you usually do on issues.

I would like to note that you have painted blind people, especiallly guide users with a very broad brush. As is most often the case when assumptions are made you fact are grossly misstated. While I'm certain that there are some inhumane guide dog uses, the vast majority of us are caring compassionate individuals. I have had three guides. The first was retired early and I was not in a position to keep her, I sent her back to her puppy family where I know she is loved and well cared for. This was the most gut renching decision I have ever made. My second guide was also retired and is a treasured member of our family. She enjoys living out her time and comfort and being spoiled by everyone. My current guide my work 3-7 hrs a day, She is currently sleeping out of harness and free under my desk. I do discurage people from petting my dog in harness only becasue it is detrumental to her well being. She could be hurt if she decided to run accross the street for a visit. While she is well supervised by me I choose to keep the risk to both of us at a minum. When she is out of harness, which is often she is a favorite visitor in my Sunday school class, office, schools, and with my 14 nieces and newphes. While my vision is impaired my ability to care for my family which includes not only my guides but several ederly relatives is not. As for your example with blood in the stool, blood has a different sent and not all of us who use guides are totally blind and notice the color difference. My vet said he wished most people paid as close attention to the dog's health as I do. Hence, before making further inflamatory, inacurate statements please check your facts and don't use an insolated instance to color an entire population.

I read the LA times on a daily basis, and was disappointed to see this published by such a reputable news organization.
I also happen to be a guide dog handler and agree with what other commenters have said. I have worked with two dogs now and my dogs are some of the most well loved, and most spoiled creatures I know. My dogs have successfully lead me around Los Angeles and DC, and take great pleasure in their work. My first guide retired a few years ago and lived out the remainder of his life with my parents where he was loved and cherished.
My current dog is off harness more than she is on, and as a reward for all her hard work she gets daily romps at the dog park where she enjoys playing ball, and running with her canine friends. This past week marked her fifth birthday, she got a cooked New York Strip Stake. This is clearly an unloved dog.
I take excellent care of my dogs, and can tell if they are unwell by the way they act. If I feel my dog isn't well, I do what any other dog owner does and take her to the vet. This isn't rocket science. I have no respect for Peta's views and would urge the Times to have a conversation with a guide dog user in this blog in order to present both sides of the story, and provide readers with the excellent standard of journalism we are accustom to.

Ms Nachminovitch needs to get her facts straight. Most if not all guide dogs get treated better than many children. As others have stated, they are not in harness 24/7. My Leader Dog, my sixth, has lots of play time with her retired predecessor and lots of play time with family and friends. I, as a blind person, am very in tune with what is going on with my dog's health. Blind people who are not able to keep their retiring dogs place them in loving homes; there are long waiting lists at the schools for these dogs. The bottom line is guide dogs wouldn't work if they didn't want to.

Wow. L.A. Times? You REALLY dropped the ball here. Way to give PETA a forum to spread misinformation and outright lies as "fact", without making any real effort to do any, you know, actual REPORTING. I will not reiterate what everyone else has said about PETA needing to do better research, primarily because PETA already knows the truth about how Guide Dogs and other Service Dogs are bread, raised, and trained. Problem is, the TRUTH isn't shocking and won't further their agenda. Thus the outright LIES.

I handle a service dog myself, a SAR K9, and train with service dogs and their trainers and handlers from just about all diciplines. From Hearing Ear to Seeing Eye to Bomb and Narc to SAR to Protection to Sport to Herding, I've worked with folks from all over the country, and NONE of what she has said above is true.

But everyone already knows that, and reiterating it is rather pointless.

My beef here isn't so much with PETA - I'm well aware of what a bunch of psychotic alarmist propagandists they are, as well as the sheer number of animals that they PUT TO DEATH each yer, and the fact that their BoD are a bunch of hypocrits who use animal products in their lives while telling folks in one camp that they would rather see animals dead than "enslaved" by people, while telling other people that, "oh, no, no, no! There is NO WAY that they are advocating the end of pet ownership!" My beef here is with the L.A. Times.

You fail. You utterly and totally failed at ANY attempt at portraying TRUTH here and simply continued offering a platform for a bunch of right wing extremists to spread their propaganda. THAT is not what REAL reporting is, and you should be ASHAMED of your conduct.

Interview PETA. Offer them their chance to get their message out. And then balance it with the TRUTH about their conduct, about how several of their own officers were caught dumping dead cats and dogs in dumpsters after "rescuing" them from kill shelters earlier that day. About how they had to budget in a walk-in cooler to store all the bodies of pets that they KILLED rather than make any attempt to adopt out. About how their multi-million dollar budget goes, NOT to improving the lives of pets now, or to assisting with adoption programs and rescue programs, but to propaganda such as the oh-so-lovely "Sea Kittens" BS that is being televised now.

If you are going to pretend to do a job, L.A. Times? Then DO it. Be FAIR and BALANCED and not just a soapbox for LIES and UNTRUTHS.

Ms. Nachminovitch---you are clueless. If you are going to discuss guide dogs, I strongly suggest that you do some major research, and get your facts correct. Guide dog users and service dog users face an ignorant society every day, and this article has added more fule to the ignorance.

I have been a Leader Dog user for the past 18 years, and making the decision to become a Leader Dog handler was one of the smartest decisions I have made. Not only does my Leader Dog provide me with confidence and independence, it also provides me with a companion who can go with me anywhere and who I love tremendously and who loves me back unconditionally.

1. Guide dogs are not in harness 24/7. You are not in your work clothes 24/7, are you? Right now, it is below 0 outside in Michigan, so today, my Leader Dog Sammie is curled up in front of my living room window watching the snow fall.

2. I may not be able to see blood in my dog's urine, but I along with most dog users are so in tune with our dogs that we know when something is not right with our dogs. I know when my dog's stool is not right as I pick up after my dog on a regular basis. My dog receives quality vet care, and my vet can be called on if I have any questions.

3. Guide dogs do in fact play. My Sammie dog was given a new toy box and several new toys for Christmas. My living room floor is covered with Nylabones and other toys that I have to try not to step on. The best part of my day is playing with my dog.

4. My dog is allowed to interact with other people when she is not in harness. Sammie loves people, and I am very strict when it comes to allowing people to pet her. When she is in harness and busy working petting Sammie is not allowed as it could be dangerous for the dog and the handler. However, when she is out of harness Sammie is a dog that is welcome to all the pets and hugs that she wishes.

5. When guide dogs need to retire they are not disposed of like the garbage. I had to make the gut wrenching decision to retire my previous Leader Dog when she was 11-years-old. I could not keep her with me, because I live in an apartment complex that does not allow pet dogs that weigh over 25 pounds. My school, Leader Dogs for the Blind, helped me find a wonderful home for her, and my dog lived the remainder of her life with wonderful people who made sure that I remained involved in her life as much as possible.

Ms. Nachminovitch--before you state your misguided opinions on guide dogs and guide dog users, I would highly recommend that you take a great deal of time to talk with and even tour the various guide dog schools in the United States. We have wonderful schools that do an excellent job in training the dogs and the dog handlers. Visit them, and please, get a clue, and get your facts straight before you take up guide dogs as your cause of the day.

NAH - - PE"TA people - other than the top select - don't lie. they're just dumb, naive and STUPID. They don't KNOW the truth!!!

Listen to WhineyWayne - who's never had a pet! He's another Hitler - adept with communication skills - the ability to make you believe what isNOT true!!! Peta followers are misguided and ignorant! Prop 2 will actually KILL more chickens from their idiot ideas!!

Does anyone else find it interesting that all of those PETA supporters who posted comments to the original Westminster story are all absent here? Perhaps they are rethinking their devotion now that Ms. Nachminovitch has clearly demonstrated the group's true colors for them.

First, as a hearing dog user for 22 years and now loosing my sight and needing more guide dog assistance, PETA needs to educate themsevles a little bit better on assistance dogs.

First hearing dogs rescued from shelters don't go straight to their new homes, they go to a facility where trainers are located, get trained, then placed. So there is a transition.

Even hearing dogs can't just go up and socialize with anyone in public. There are people out there allergic to dogs, which is the protiens in their saliva and dander. Getting too close to such a person can trigger a histamine attack. Some more severe than others. There are also people who have fears of dogs which walking up to a person could scare them. So all assistance dogs must be trained not to go up to people until allowed. Many times I will let my dog greet people, many times I won't. This is the same for guide dogs and it isn't any different. So how could PETA use an argument against people greeting but say eharing dogs get approval when they can't go up to just anyone either. All assistance dogs must be ready to work adn do their job. A sense of pride and accomplishments. Look at a pet that gets over weight and sleeps on the couch all day while an assistance dog is out, getting movement, seeing the world, having pride because they have a job to do? There is nothing like seeing a serious worker who is focused on their work because they love it. Maybe this appears to be terrible to PETA, but that is because they do not do their research.

What about dogs that are left home while a human works. A guide dog gets to go to work with their partner and dogs are pack animals. They need to be with their pack or human.

I don't understand why PETA wastes their time on making points that show they do not really know what is going on. There is so much anial abuse out there that they could put their focus on. I have worked in wildlife law enforcement and know what exploitation happens and this isn't one of them. Too bad PETA can't get their facts right and their focus right. I wish they would get invovled with the disabled community to understand that who wants to be patronized by a human to have your needs met when a dog is so happy to work for you. Yes HAPPY. If PETA would do more research on canine behavior and the working bond, they would understand. Maybe they need to become disabled themslves for a month, work iwh a dog to assist them and then they will understand the dog loves to work and what the work entales instead of creating sad stories to get emotional and attention.

One more point I'd like to add to my previous post concerns the assumption that because I am blind I can't tell if something is wrong with my guide dog. True, I can't see if blood is in his urine, but I submit that most blind people would know that something was wrong before it got to that point. I had a vet in the early '80s, who told me that when he was at vet school, his professor said that, if a blind person comes to you saying that there is something wrong with their dog and you can't find anything, keep looking. He knew, as do many vets, that vision isn't the only tool capable of diagnosing problems.

My wife of 29 years has worked with Guide Dogs since her late teens. I can categorically state that everything Ms. Nachminovitch said about their treatment is a bare-faced lie, as has been pointed out more than once by other people who actually know something about the subject.

If you really want to know about Guide Dogs and their relationships, why don't you talk to someone who has one instead of talking with a PETA representative whom you already know has a chip on her shoulder the size of the Empire State Building?

Lindsay Barnett. What is your interest in having PETA representatives come to your blog as you say you will be doing? Are you a member of PETA yourself? If so, you ought to reveal it.

Once again, PETA is blind to a very simple fact.

Were it not for IRRESPONSIBLE people randomly allowing their pets to reproduce, there would be no shelter animals in need of homes.

Instead of addressing the real issue behind shelter residents, PETA as usual focuses on 'breeders' because they are easy, visible targets.

Wrap it all up in pretty shiny paper, put a big bow on it, and PETA and HSUS are still anti-animal, anti-pet, organizations. Period

I WAS APPALLED TO READ THIS ARTICLE FROM PETA! THE INFORMATION IS SO INACCURATE. I DO THINK THE LA TIMES SHOULD INVESTIGATE, AS WELL AS INTERVIEW GUIDE DOG SCHOOLS AND HANDLERS. AS A PUPPY RAISER, I CAN ASSURE EVERYONE THAT THE DOGS ARE BELOVED FAMILY MEMBERS AND ARE TREATED BETTER THAN SOME PEOPLE MAY TREAT HUMANS. THE DOGS ARE BRED AND RAISED TO ASSIST VISUALLY IMPAIRED; THERE IS NOTHING UNKIND IN THOSE INTENTIONS. IT WOULD ONLY BE FAIR THAT LA TIMES AS WELL AS PETA, INTERVIEW GUIDE DOG USERS AND SCHOOLS TO SEE THE BENEFITS THAT HAVING A GUIDE DOG PROVIDE. THE TRAINING FOR THE DOGS PRIOR TO BECOMING A GUIDE IS INTENSE; BUT EVERY LESSON IS DESIGNED TO ENHANCE AND PROTECT THE HANDLERS WHEN THEY ARE MATCHED AS A TEAM. WHY WOULDN'T THIS TIMES REPORTER GIVE EQUAL SPACE TO THE TRUE STORY. THERE WAS NOTHING HUMANE ABOUT PETA'S IGNORANCE! IN FACT IT IS A GREAT DISSERVICE AND INSULT TO THE DOGS AND HUMANS. THERE ARE FEW BONDS MORE LOVING THAN THOSE THAT DEVELOP BETWEEN THESE TEAMS. I IMPLORE YOU TO GET THE FACTS AND OFFER A TRUE PICTURE OF GUIDE DOGS. ONE EXCELLENT SCHOOL AND SOURCE OF INFORMATION IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA IS THE GUIDE DOGS OF AMERICA, LOCATED IN SYLMAR. I WOULD URGE YOU TO CONTACT THEM AS SOON AS POSSIBLE!

Blind people can't see blood in their own urine, deaf people can't hear when a dog warns them of a danger. I am forced (by society) to wear a harness for long periods of time- under my blouse! Men have other harnesses for sports!
My husband has had several guide dogs that were always very well cared for on a regular basis by a qualified vet. The dog that we have now, is a 3 y/o yellow lab mix that loves the beach & pool. The dog escorts my husband through the San Bernardino traffic daily to go to his Mass. The dog has traveled to Mexico as well as Canada with us on a luxury cruise ship where there was literally was a line of people to pet him -OUT OF HARNESS!!! Are you allowed to visit with friends at work? It would distract you, right? Sorry, but your job is not as important as our dog's job. He saves my husband's life on a regular basis.
The choice is usually given to the owner (unless they are abusing their dogs) whether they wish to keep their dogs. Our last dog developed a herniated disk at the same time that I did & we made the choice to return her to her beloved puppy trainer who could afford the necessary surgery. I am still trying to get help for my back.
I do not expect you to change your attitude because of my note to you BUT, I would expect you to do a little more research into things. There are probably a few people who do abuse their dog -there is usually a bad apple somewhere in a big enough bunch, BUT if a guide dog schools get wind of anything of that nature, there will be removal of the dog & charges pressed.
Some people probably feel a little more secure with the dog tethered near them until they bond, which is very important, There is a a great importance to that bond as the blind peoples' lives can depend on their 24 hour a day friends.The dogs are not chained to a dog house in the back yard in the elements, maybe fed once a day or not. They are family.
Heck, I should be treated as well as my husbands' dog is!

RE "WE don;t want to take your dogs away" THE HELL YOU SAY. That is exactly what you want. If there is no breeding then there are no dogs worth having. If we spay and neuter all of them then DUH!!! What do you think. There will be no canine friends. I would rather spend a quiet day at home with my wonderful canine companions than with a lot of humans. What PETA wants to do is exactly the opposite that you say. They want to spay and neuter all companion animals until there are no more on the face of the earth. I guess someone forgot to teach PETA about the birds and the bees.....