Wyoming Lawmakers Look At Protecting Service Animals
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
January 18, 2005
CHEYENNE, WYOMING--A Wyoming House panel approved a measure Tuesday that would make it a crime to injure or kill a service dog.
The House Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee approved House Bill 55 which would make it a misdemeanor to deliberately inflict "serious bodily harm, permanent disability or death upon any service dog."
Those convicted under the proposal would face up to six months in prison and a fine of up to $750. Judges would also order anyone convicted to pay the owner of the dog restitution, including veterinary or medical bills, costs of replacing the animal or retraining a new one, and other expenses caused by the crime.
The bill now goes to the full House for debate and final vote.
Jill Jensen, who uses a wheelchair, told the committee that training service dogs can take up to four years and can cost up to $20,000.
"Assistance dogs give independence for the blind, the non-hearing and those who have disabilities," she said, according to the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle. "They are our arms and legs."
Jensen's service dog, Yankee, helps support her when she moves from her wheelchair to a chair. He also picks things up for her.
"If I lose him, I lose my independence," she said.
In August, Ohio's Governor Bob Taft signed into law a measure making it a crime to harass, harm, steal or interfere with a service animal. Under the Ohio law, criminal charges can be filed against people who act recklessly or maliciously toward such animals, or fail to keep their own dogs from doing the same.