A recent unprovoked dog attack on a woman and her Seeing Eye dog in Gahanna highlights the need for pet owners to keep their dogs properly controlled.

To the editor,

A recent unprovoked dog attack on a woman and her Seeing Eye dog in Gahanna highlights the need for pet owners to keep their dogs properly controlled.

One of our graduates was walking with her dog in her neighborhood on the morning of March 19 when an unrestrained dog jumped on her dog, wrestled it to the ground and began biting its neck. The graduate, who is blind, screamed for help, but the dog owner was inside his home and couldn't hear what was happening. Fortunately, her dog survived the attack.

Attacks by unrestrained dogs on guide dog teams can be a terrifying occurrence. The guide dog handler, with limited or no vision, may be unable to fend off the attack and can't flee if the guide dog is pinned or injured. Even if the attacking dog is driven off, the blind person often is unable to determine the extent of his or her dog's injuries or to identify the attacking dog to the authorities. After the trauma of an attack, some guide dogs are no longer able to continue their careers.

You can help protect guide dog teams by keeping your dog leashed, within a fenced-in yard or inside your home, and by reporting any loose dogs roaming around your neighborhood to the police and animal control officer. Never leave an unattended dog tied up outside a public place. If you witness an attack on a guide dog, offer assistance to the handler.

When walking your dog, keep it leashed and under your control, and don't allow it near a guide dog. Guide dogs are working animals, and even a friendly puppy can be a dangerous distraction from traffic and other hazards. If your dog does cause a problem, do the right thing and take responsibility for its actions.

Finally, please be aware that Ohio law (Title 29, Section 2921.321) requires dog owners to "reasonably restrain" their dogs in order to prevent them from attacking or interfering with guide dogs. If the guide dog is seriously injured or killed, the dog owner can be charged with a felony; the dog owner also may be required to pay for veterinary bills and for the retraining or replacement of the guide dog.

I urge all dog owners to do everything they can to make the streets safer for guide dog teams - and all citizens by practicing responsible pet ownership.

More information can be found at http://www.seeingeye.org/protect.