Assemblyman Tom Lackey, R-Palmdale, introduced a bill Tuesday that would provide more protection for guide, service and signal dogs whether they’re on duty or not.
Formally known as Assembly Bill 169, the new law would hold the perpetrators of any harm to the animal accountable through restitution payments, regardless of whether the dog is in the discharge of their duties at the time.
The bill states that if passed, not only would the owner of the attacked service dog be entitled to payments of up to $10,000 from the convicted party, but the misdemeanor crime also carries the possibility of a yearlong sentence in county jail.
Lackey said the “meager” attempts by state law to protect these animals is a disservice to those who rely “on a dog to accomplish everyday tasks” and would be unable to do so without their service dog.
“A guide dog instills confidence, ensures protection, and gives freedom back to someone affected by a disability,” Lackey said in a statement Tuesday. “These are the animals whose life’s work revolves around protecting us. The least we can do for them is ensure that both they and their owners are properly cared for in a time of need.”
The bill was brought to Lackey’s office after one of his constituents had to foot the medical bill for her guide dog named Paisley, who was attacked in the park by two other off-leash dogs.
“This was only one of the stories, but we had stories coming in from all over the state,” said Hallie Balch, a spokeswoman for Lackey’s office. “Many of these people explained that they had just started getting into a good relationship with their dog, and then were forced to start the process all over again, which is very expensive.”
If approved at the Assembly committee level, AB 169 would then head to the chamber floor for a vote and require a two-thirds majority later this year.