From an interview with Daphna Nachminovitch, Vice-President of Cruelty Investigations for PETA,
in the Los Angeles Times blog L.A. Unleashed
[NACHMINOVITCH:] There will never be a perfect world, but in the world we're in now, we support some working dog situations and decry others. Hearing dog programs that pull dogs from animal shelters and ensure that they are in safe and loving homes have our stamp of approval; they live with the family for their entire life, they learn interesting things, enjoy life, and love helping. On the other hand, we oppose most seeing-eye-dog programs because the dogs are bred as if there are no equally intelligent dogs literally dying for homes in shelters, they are kept in harnesses almost 24/7, people are prohibited from petting or playing with them and they cannot romp and run and interact with other dogs; and their lives are repeatedly disrupted (they are trained for months in one home and bond, then sent to a second, and after years of bonding with the person they have "served," they are whisked away again because they are old and no longer "useful"). We have a member who is blind who actually moved states to avoid "returning" her beloved dog. We feel that the human community should do more to support blind people, and give dogs a break. A deaf person can see if a dog has a medical issue such as blood in her urine, a blind person living alone cannot, and so on.
Read the whole article (with the option to leave a comment) here: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/unleashed/2009/01/when-we-first-r.html
You can e-mail Daphna Nachminovitch at DaphnaN@peta.org
My dog is not in harness 24/7. If I had a dollar for every moment she spent romping with family members' and friends' dogs, I would be able to pay my college tuition.
I picked up on the fact that she has a UTI in class at the Seeing Eye, before I had even learned to read her signals well. It was my persistence that led to testing and appropriate treatment.
Two of my three retired dogs have retired with family members. If apartment complexes would relax the rules on pets, more dogs would remain with their owners.
I have been accosted by Peta members who don't like the way I relieve my dog. In the incident in question, my dog was at the end of a 12-foot lead, doing circles. Because she was taking full advantage of the lead--and nearly pulling me off my feet in the process--the person determined that I was trying to prevent her from relieving herself. The person proceeded to scream at me and threaten to report me, bringing their little yapper into my dog's personal space. My dog did not relieve until hours later, and it had nothing to do with me or the lead.
The vast majority of shelter animals I have met could not handle the type of work required from a guide and certainly do not have the temperament for it. PETA needs to get educated!