Public Service Spot Targets Restaurant Access

Morristown,NJ - Few sighted people have ever had the disturbing experience of being denied entrance to a restaurant. Despite laws that guarantee access in all 50 states, the provinces of Canada and the Americans with Disabilities Act, however, blind people accompanied by dog guides are turned away from restaurants every day.

To help raise public awareness of this issue, The Seeing Eye, the nation's oldest dog guide school, commissioned legendary radio, television and advertising personality Stan Freberg to develop a 60-second radio public service announcement. The announcement uses Mr. Freberg's trademark humor to address the fact that access to restaurants is guaranteed by law to people accompanied by dog guides.

A restaurant is a frequent destination for most people, blind or sighted. Some restaurant owners think if a blind person arrives with a friend, the friend may serve as a guide and the dog should remain outside. This isn't practical, for many reasons.

A Seeing Eye dog is very valuable, both in terms of its monetary worth and its very special role in a blind person's life. Leaving it tied to a parking meter makes it vulnerable to theft or injury. Leaving it inside a car also makes it vulnerable to theft or, in summer, fatal heat stroke.

A Seeing Eye dog is very special. It probably was born at The Seeing Eye breeding facility, where parentage is a matter of selection of the fittest, in terms of health and temperament. Seeing Eye puppies are raised in families where they learn good manners, basic obedience, and how to get along in a variety of social situations. After about 18 months, they return to The Seeing Eye. After receiving a clean bill of health at the on-site veterinary clinic, each dog is assigned to a sighted instructor for four months of specialized training. This includes learning to lie quietly under a restaurant table without sniffing food or being otherwise obtrusive.

After the dogs pass a final examination, they are matched with blind students who come to The Seeing Eye to gain the independence and mobility a dog guide can provide. During the 20 to 27 day instruction period, the dogs live with their new masters around the clock. This includes accompanying their blind owners to all meals in The Seeing Eye dining room, and additional practice in Morristown restaurants. Despite the presence of tempting food and tantalizing aromas, the dogs rest quietly under the table, and lead their masters in and out silently and efficiently.

Students are taught to groom their dogs daily. This keep's the dog's coat clean and healthy, so their is neither "doggy" odor nor excessive shedding. Students also are taught the discipline necessary to keep their dogs under control at all times. They have been instructed to place their dogs under restaurant tables, where the dogs know hot to make themselves virtually invisible. In fact, once a Seeing Eye graduate has been seated in a restaurant, most other patrons won't even realize a dog is in the room.

Because of their breeding and training, Seeing Eye dogs have earned the right to enter public places freely.

The PSA is being distributed to radio stations throughout North America. It inaugurates an extensive campaign dealing with access to all public places and accomodations for people who use dog guides.

The Seeing Eye, founded in 1929, is a philanthropy whose mission is to enhance the independence, dignity and self-confidence of blind people through the use of Seeing Eye dogs. It has placed over 11,000 specially bred and trained Seeing Eye dogs with blind people throughout North America.

P.O. Box 375 Morristown, New Jersey 07963-0375   (201) 539-539-4425 Fax (201) 539-0922

© The Seeing Eye, Morristown, NJ.