Blind couple refused seeing eye dog

August 15, 2008 3:48:40 PM PDT
It's 's a controversy over a blind couple and their efforts to get a seeing eye dog.54-year-old Joseph Harris of Trenton is legally blind and so is his wife, which is why he hoped to acquire a Seeing Eye dog.

"My main concern is staying independent and being able to do the things for me and my wife when other people can't do it," Joseph Harris said.

But after a representative of the Seeing Eye Inc. in Morristown walked with Joseph through his West State Street neighborhood, Harris got a letter telling him he was being turned down because of the risk to a guide dog from stray and aggressive dogs in the vicinity.

"There's no stray dogs or vicious dogs in the neighborhood, if there was I'd probably been attacked," Harris said.

There was an incident in 2002 when a Seeing Eye dog was attacked by a pit bull in Trenton, but city officials say that was an isolated incident. They say there have been no reports of any attacks in this neighborhood in years and residents say there are few if any strays.

"There's no dogs running up and down State Street or around the neighborhood because if there was I'd be afraid to walk out there and I got good vision," Eugene Peagler said.

With help from the mayor Joseph plans to appeal the decision to deny him a Seeing Eye dog and hope that he can change the mind of the organization that's saying no.

Mayor Doug Palmer has set up a meeting for Monday with Seeing Eye officials, who released a statement saying they should have and will now "...make a more thorough assessment of whether or not there are stray dogs in the area that might pose a serious threat to a blind person with a guide dog."

"Hopefully they'll see the error of their ways and reverse themselves," Mayor Doug Palmer (D) of Trenton said.

Joseph Harris is hoping that happens so he can get some help navigating the streets of Trenton.

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