My Guide To You For National Guide Dog Month

                       
                                                                                                                                 Photo Courtesy of Guide Dogs for the Blind


May is National Guide Dog Month. Those that are blessed with the ability to see, be mobile and independent on their own may not realize how many organizations are there to help support those less fortunate. I’d like to take some time to educate you on a few of the wonderful nonprofit organizations that help the visually impaired find more independence and dignity by being provided a highly-trained guide dog.
Guide Dog Foundation

Based out of Smithtown, New York, the Guide Dog Foundation was the first United States-based organization to be accredited by the International Guide Dog Federation and Assistance Dogs International. Their mission is straightforward: “provide guide dogs and training – free of charge – to people who were blind or visually impaired.” And they have been doing so for over 60 years! This is only possible due to the generosity of individuals--like yourself--corporations, foundations, businesses and fraternal clubs.  

Over $50,000. This is the burden generous donors are able to relieve from each visually impaired person that needs a furry friend to guide them. It's the cost to breed, raise, train, care for and place each dog. With the Guide Dog Foundation being rated highly by the charity watchdog organizations, you can feel secure that your donation will be affecting the cause you set out to help.

Founded after World War II, the Guide Dog Foundation originally had a focus on veterans returning from Europe and the Pacific. Having expanded their efforts since then, this veteran-focus branched off into its own organization, America’s VetDogs.

                                                                                                                                  Photo Courtesy of Guide Dogs for the Blind
America’s VetDogs

In 2006, America’s VetDogs officially became a separate nonprofit from the Guide Dog Foundation, though still sharing many staff and resources to benefit each other. Guide dogs that come from this organization serve a variety of needs for those who have selflessly served our country:
  • those with physical disabilities
  • guide dogs for individuals who are blind or have low vision
  • service dogs to help mitigate the effects of PTSD
  • hearing dogs for those who have lost their hearing
  • facility dogs as part of the rehabilitation process in military and VA hospitals

Having received the Secretary of the Army Public Service Award, this organization surely deserves more of your attention. Between community fundraising and puppy training, there are many ways you can help America’s VetDogs continue their efforts for years to come.
The Seeing Eye

17,000 and counting. That’s how many guide dogs The Seeing Eye has been able to pair with people in need since the 1930s. Providing instructional help to blind people on proper use, handling and care of their new partners, this nonprofit also conducts and supports research on canine health and development. Having accreditation through the American Animal Hospital Association, which only 12-15% of vet practices in the U.S. and Canada are able to acquire, shows their dedication to quality care for service animals.

Known as the world’s oldest dog school, this organization also relies on the generosity of individuals, foundations and corporations to continue their efforts. There are many ways you can get involved through donations, volunteering and even attending one of their events. But if you can’t make it to one of their fundraising events, you’re encouraged to host a nonprofit fundraiser of your own! Contact their Donor & Public Relations Department at info@seeingeye.org to learn more.
Guide Dogs for the Blind

We move to the west coast for the next nonprofit based out of San Rafael, California. Organized in 1942 and with no government funding since, Guide Dogs for the Blind goes above and beyond for their clients even after graduation from guide school. It takes an average of 251 volunteers to help a single puppy be fully prepared to serve as a guide dog. To see how you can become a part of the team of impactful volunteers today!

From breeding, vet services, training and everything in between, these dogs are immensely cared for before being partnered for a life of care giving in their own way. Not only are these guide dogs provided to clients for free, there’s after-graduation assistance available as well. A veterinary financial assistance program is in place to continue to relieve the financial obligation that comes with owning a pet.


But not all pups make the cut to be a full-fledged guide dog for a variety of reasons, both health and personality related. This is where Guide Dogs for the Blind’s Career Change program steps in. Knowing these dogs are still used to serve others in a meaningful way, they are then considered for: search & rescue teams, medical alert work, pet therapy, K9 buddies or adoption.


There are so many more nonprofit organizations that provide disabled individuals with furry assistants. Explore how you can have a hand in giving someone the gift of not only a friend but also more independence to overcome some difficulties with their disability. Spread the word, give back, foster, volunteer and so much more--there are options for anyone!

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