New Zealand Dog News

Reviewing the dog news in New Zealand with editors comments. Someone needs to keep reviewing how our dogs are doing in society.

December 23, 2009

Guide dog may have led to man's fall

A 64-year-old visually impaired man landed in Dunedin Hospital after his guide dog appeared to lead him off a 4m ledge into the Water of Leith at the University of Otago.

The Mosgiel man received serious leg and chest injuries when he stepped off the ledge about 11.30am and landed on rocks below, near the University of Otago clock tower building.

He was in a stable condition last night.

Jacob Hall (13) was fishing on the banks of the Leith when the incident happened.

He said moments before the incident, the man and his guide dog bumped into him, and he cautioned the man about being so close to the edge.


"It's quite unusual for a seeing-eye dog to do that." Just for people's information, the word 'seeing-eye" dog is a trademark for working dogs for the blind in the USA. I'm not sure why people in New Zealand would use it since these dogs are called Guide Dogs-- that's their official title in NZ.

I'm sure it's confusing for people, and I'm sure people would say 'who cares?' and others would say, 'so why are there two names?'. For those that are interested, here's the story as I see it.

In the USA there are many 'companies' that train dogs for blind people since there are many States and many places that do rehabilitiation work for the blind and vision impaired.

As you know, training a dog to work with blind people is a great marketing for companies that work with older people who can't see too well, or can't see at all. Government don't give enough funding for companies or charites that work with blind people so they have to get money through us, the public. What better way than to show you cutes pictures of puppies, and cute pictures of blind kids.

Dogs, and Assistance Dogs-- In the USA, there are 13 and may be more places that train dogs for blind people, and they are all INC. (incorporated).
Check here for all the companies.
So the word Seeing Eye Dog is a company name. In New Zealand, it is only the RNZFB who do the training, and they are called Guide Dogs, but their generic name is '
assistance dogs'. I'm sure you see the Puppy Appeal and Blind Week Appeal during the year.

The dog was taken by the SPCA to dog training staff at the Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind.

RNZFB Guide Dog Services national manager Paul Metcalf said the dog would be checked and cared for until his owner was able to look after him again.

Mr Metcalf said the incident would be investigated and if there was any cause for concern about the dog's actions, he would be given additional training.

He acknowledged the incident was unusual and said guide dogs were trained to avoid potentially dangerous environments for their owners.


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