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Protecting paws and claws

Published (3/11/2010)
By Patty Ostberg
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“Ryan” the service dog takes a rest during the House Crime Victims/Criminal Records Division meeting March 5, while Lolly Lijewski, left, Chris Bell, center and Rep. Mindy Greiling testify on a bill that would provide a criminal penalty for intentionally rendering a service animal unable to perform its duties. (Photo by Andrew VonBank)A person who causes bodily harm or renders a service animal unable to perform its duty could be charged with a gross misdemeanor, under a bill approved by the House Crime Victims/Criminal Records Division March 5.

Sponsored by Rep. Mindy Greiling (DFL-Roseville), HF3312 would provide protection for the animals, and allow a person to collect expenses associated with the crime from the convicted person.

Lolly Lijewski said that last September, as she entered a store, she felt her guide dog’s legs buckle underneath her. A witness told Lijewski that someone had just kicked her dog in the jaw and helped her identify the person who committed the act.

“They get us around every day, they are supremely trained … but one incident can change that,” she said. A severe incident could cause a dog to have to be retrained or replaced, she added.

Also approved March 9 by the House Public Safety Policy and Oversight Committee, it awaits action by the full House. A companion, SF2990, sponsored by Sen. D. Scott Dibble (DFL-Mpls), awaits action by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

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