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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Animal Training, Animals, Education, Eye Diseases, Blindness & Vision Impairments, Health, Special Education

Mission: The guide dog foundation for the blind, inc. Was established to assist the blind. The foundation's activities associated with this objective include: the breeding and training of guide dogs; the training of the blind to use these guide dogs; doing everything necessary or desirable to improve the independence of the blind; and educate the public about opportunities for the blind in our society.

Programs: Training program - our instructors complete a three year apprenticeship program before they become certified instructors. During fy 2015, 247 dogs began formal training for placement with a consumer of either the guide dog foundation, or its related organization america's vetdogs - the veteran's k-9 corps, inc. The guide dog foundation manages america's vetdogs and is reimbursed for the services it provides to america's vetdogs. Formal training takes approximately three to six months during which time the foundation cares for all dogs. Dogs are housed on campus in state of the art kennels in the designated training center. Not every dog that enters formal training becomes a guide or service dog. The foundation currently estimates a success rate of 60%. After completion of formal training, the dog is ready to be teamed with a consumer. The consumer or student and their dog are trained to work together as a team either on our campus, in the consumer's home community or a combination of the two. The process and the foundation's commitment continues after placement with aftercare, follow-up, support and outreach throughout the life of the dog. The cycle is perpetual, with each stage financed 100% by the foundation.

breeding and puppy program - during fy 2015, the foundation supported 145 dogs in the breeding colony. The breeding colony is carefully selected after extensive screening and testing. During fy 2015, 440 puppies were added to the programs of the guide dog foundation and america's vetdogs. Puppies spend seven to eight weeks in our puppy nursery. From the nursery they spend approximately one year in the home of a volunteer puppy raiser or prison puppy program before coming back to the foundation for formal training. During fy 2015, a total of 468 puppies were placed representing a 9% increase from the prior year. 355 puppies were placed in puppy raiser homes and approximately 113 puppies participated in our prison puppy program. The foundation currently supports puppy raisers in nearly 20 states and has puppies placed in 10 prisons in massachusetts, maryland, florida and connecticut. During the time they are in puppy raiser homes, we support the volunteer family through constant outreach, communication and training. We bring our volunteer regional puppy raiser coordinators on campus for training and support that they can share with their local regionally based puppy raising families. Our professional puppy staff supports our puppy raising volunteers, and our staff visits each prison weekly to follow-up and train the inmate handlers who are carefully screened to ensure they are suitable candidates to participate in this program.

student and graduate services - during fy 2015, the foundation graduated 75 guide dog teams and 1 service dog for a total of 76. In addition, america's vetdogs graduated 10 guide dog teams, 32 service dog teams, and 1 hearing dog team for a total of 43. Our students come from all over the u. S. As well as outside the u. S. Students stay on campus for approximately two weeks in the student residence which can accommodate up to 17 students at a time. Each student has a private room with private bath. The residence is staffed 24 hours per day. All meals are provided. Students can also receive home training, where the foundation sends a certified instructor to the student's home community. All travel, hotel and meals, etc. Are provided for the instructors by the foundation.

public outreach and education are important parts of the mission of guide dog foundation for the blind. This past year, three issues of the guideway were distributed to over 80,000 recipients. The guideway is the official newsletter to educate the public about guide dogs, guide dog etiquette, and disability issues. Foundation graduates, puppy raisers and caretakers went on nearly 170 speaking engagements. Each speaking engagement is typically attended by a group in excess of 30 people. We also host a talk and tour program at our campus which had over 1,100 attendees in fy 2015. Guide dog foundation has embraced social media as a means to reach our supporters efficiently and effectively. Our facebook "likes" have nearly doubled since the prior fiscal year. We currently have nearly 24,000 likes on facebook and over 2,000 followers on twitter. Additionally, we have another 2,000 followers through youtube, linkedin and instagram, which is nearly triple what it was in the prior fy.

Community Stories

1 Story from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

3

Client Served

Rating: 5

I am a 100% disabled veteran who can no longer work due to my service connected injuries. I am missing part of my right leg, my back is broke in four places and I have difficulty walking. At 50 years old I was forced to retire with a 12 year old son. Being able to make his lacrosse games, scouting outings, etc., is very difficult for me due to my injuries and the medications.

VetDogs, which, is a part of the Guide Dog Foundation help Veterans like me by providing mobility service dogs. Essentially my dog is a four legged walker. The Foundation provided me with a dog, trained the dog, and hosted me at their facility for 13 days 24/7. They provided room and board. I had my own bedroom and connected bathroom. They have a chef on duty to cook 3 great meals a day.

During this time they provided instruction on how to command my new dog. My dog is trained to pick items off the ground such as my cane, hat, keys, etc. so I do not have to bend over. the dog provides stability while I am walking with the use of a harness that the foundation provided. The dog will alert and bark if I fall so that others can come to my aid, he steadies me walking up and down stairs, pushes the handicapped buttons to open doors, and braces to keep me from falling. If I fall the dog will let me use the harness to climb up off the floor. While I am home alone, the dog constantly watches me, and helps me walk in my house, when I shower, to make sure I do not fall.

All of this has helped me stay out of a wheel chair and take part in activities that are only limited by pain, and medication. I am able to walk across the field to see my son play lacrosse. Simple things like that, which, would have required a wheel chair, no longer prohibit my participation from my family life.

All of this did not cost me a cent. It was an unbelievable experience. I am so grateful for the difference that they have made in my life. The Veterans Administration pays for my Veterinarian bills, but the foundation can help here also. They provided 3 trainers to 10 disabled Veterans during the instruction. We were taught the commands that the dog was trained with. Each dog was individually trained to each particular Veterans needs and disabilities. The foundation provided travel to malls and local downtown areas for us to practice, as well as on site training facilities.

The Guide Dog Foundation and VetDogs, the Veterans K-9 Corps. made a big difference in my life. My life is now not confined to a wheelchair and sitting at home in front of the TV. My dog has gone on Amtrack with me to go visit my mother from New York to North Carolina, safely; Something I never could have done before. I went with my family to the beach at Montauk and stayed in a hotel for three days with my dog. My dog made sure I could walk down the board walk stairs down to the beach, and didn't fall down any stairs, which, was a frequent event for me, that had threatened to ground me in a wheel chair. Now I can take walk on paths in the woods now, and although I might not be able to be involved with my son's activities as much as I wish; I can at least be there for him. This is so important to a young boy growing up. I cannot put into words all of the things that my Service/Mobility dog has made in my life.

Please support the VetDogs and the Guide Dog Foundation. It makes such a difference in a Veteran's life. Thank you to all the people that helped along the way. The help doesn't stop there either. The foundation continues its support with advice when I need it, medical clinics for my dog, additional training, veterinary care, etc. My dog is only 2 years old now and is continuing to learn new tasks that help me live a more normal life that my Military Injuries have stolen from me.

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