Never in my life have I considered myself a victim. Although by anyone’s perspective, I suppose I would be justified in doing so. The victim of child abuse at the hands of my father, the victim of a few nasty car accidents, the victim of a rare eye disease robbing me of my sight, the victim of a vicious dog attack 8 months ago. But I’m NOT a victim. I’m a visually impaired triathlete dammit! I’m strong, determined and full of purpose to be the best Amy I can be and fight hard for my friends in need and those that can’t fight for themselves. I’m not a survivor, but a THRIVER.
So you can imagine my shock upon waking up from a nightmare reliving this dog attack last night. I tossed and turned and kept hearing my own screams while desperately reaching out for my guide dog to cover him with my body to prevent the next bite. Yesterday’s court appearance against the awful woman whose dog attacked us was more traumatic than I was prepared for. I was a bundle of nerves and anxiously awaited justice that I was sure was to be completed. Instead I faced yet another disappointment and a reliving of that horrible day. The case was postponed due to the prosecutor’s failure to acquire the police report for the incident. All that build-up for nothing. Elvis waited patiently at my side, a little on edge knowing that I was so anxious. He stared at me intently, adoringly, wondering what exciting thing may happen at any moment. Instead, we poured ourselves back into a cab and headed home to fight another day.
I finally understand what people mean when they suffer from a post traumatic experience. I would never have guessed that by simply trying to face this woman yesterday that I would have set myself back months to when I felt so helpless to protect my boy from harm. The school that trained Elvis and myself, Guiding Eyes for the Blind was so incredibly supportive, offering their own experts to come out and testify on our behalf if necessary. Just knowing that I had their support, and that of dozens of well-wishing friends got me through a harrowing day of emotional roller coasters.
I’m so grateful for all of the advice from friends who are attorneys and animal experts to prepare for December 2nd, where we go back and make sure the $91 fine for an ‘off-leash dog’ is carried out. It would be a disgrace for anything other than that to take place, and a black spot on our legal system. After overhearing the attorneys speaking at the front of the courtroom, I realized how important it is to be present to be sure all information is accurate to the last detail. I realize now how these things can go horribly wrong for the victim.
So I will NOT be one. I will advocate for my Guide Dog and for other folks with vision impairments whose dogs have been attacked in such a manner, and be SURE that we set a precedent so that the legislature can work towards stiffer penalties for attacks on a working guide dog. My LIFE was on hold for more than a month due to this person’s negligence and lack of caring. Weeks in a cast, more than a month of physical therapy, hours upon hours retraining my dog, months of not sleeping, and months of being terrified to meet other dogs on the street. To all the other guide dog users out there, this victory will be for you. No more victims. God bless.