Thursday, January 8, 2004

No jail in attack on local guide dog



By Sharon Coolidge
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Ted Chism, a legally blind man whose guide dog Sparky was attacked by another dog last year, told a judge Tuesday he didn't want the other dog's owner to go to jail.

He just wants all dog owners to take care of their pets.

Hamilton County Municipal Court Judge Tim Black convicted Sharon Knaff, 44, of Clifton, of failure to confine her dog - a female mixed boxer - and sentenced her to three months probation.

"I believe she had no intent for her dog to harm Sparky," Chism said. "My concern is that the problem of aggressive dogs not be taken lightly."

Chism isn't alone in his sentiment.

In November, Cincinnati City Council reinstated a ban on pit bulls four years after it was lifted. Other cities and townships have also recently enacted vicious dog laws.

State Rep. Thom Collins, R-Mount Vernon, is expected to introduce a bill today in the Ohio House that would make attacks on service animals potentially a felony, punishable by up to one year in prison.

The bill expands the offense of attacking a service animal and requires that restitution for the animal be paid - which can reach into the thousands when necessary training is considered, Collins said.

"We look at service animals as an extension of a person," Collins said. "An attack on a service animal is the same as an attack against that person because the animal is acting as the eyes, hands or feet of someone."

Chism's 80-pound Labrador retriever was treated at a veterinary clinic for bites to his right front leg and around his right ear.

Sparky has since recovered.

E-mail scoolidge@enquirer.com




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