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Guide Dogs for the Blind

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Animal Services, Animals, Blind & Visually Impaired Centers, Disabilities, Human Services

Mission:

Guide Dogs for the Blind provides enhanced mobility to qualified individuals through partnership with dogs whose unique skills are developed and nurtured by dedicated volunteers and a professional staff.

Established in 1942, Guide Dogs for the Blind continues its dedication to quality student training services and extensive follow-up support for graduates. Our programs are made possible through the teamwork of staff, volunteers and generous donors. Services are provided to students from the United States and Canada at no cost to them.

Target demographics: Individuals who are blind or visually impaired.

Direct beneficiaries per year: Approximately 300

Geographic areas served: Nationwide US, Canada

Programs: Our major operating programs include Puppy Raising, Guide Dog Readiness, Training, Veterinary and Graduate Services. We have over 2,000 volunteer puppy raisers located throughout the Western US who socialize our dogs from age 8 weeks until they are about 15 months old. The dogs are returned to our San Rafael, California or Boring, Oregon campuses, to complete their training with our instructors. Upon being trained, the dogs are matched with blind or visually impaired clients. The clients travel to one of our campuses, free of charge and live in our residences for two weeks. Upon graduation, we provide assistance with veterinary care as needed as well as follow up support with new routes or other mobility challenges. While our guide dog programs primarily serve adults, there is no minimum age to work with a guide provided individuals have the requisite orientation and mobility skills. We offer a free Orientation & Mobility Immersion program for those interested in developing the skills to succeed as a guide dog handler. Guide Dogs for the Blind also seeks out ways to engage youth who are blind or visually impaired wherever possible. Our K9 Buddy Program matches specially selected dogs to become wonderful pets and companions to children and young adults who are blind or visually impaired and their families. The K9 Buddy program connects the child/family with our community of puppy raisers and other supporters, including agencies and organizations for the blind. K9 Buddies are offered free-of-charge. We also have Camp GDB, which is designed to introduce youth to the guide dog lifestyle, create connections with peers, and more.

Community Stories

16 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

1 Robert M.9

Client Served

Rating: 5

I have received two Guide Dogs from Guide Dogs for the Blind. My second dog, they went out of their way to provide me the training I needed in my home rather than flying me to their campus because I had a medical issue that prevented me from attending class. They have always gone out of their way to help me when ever I need veterinary financial assistance or have behavioral questions about my dog. It’s true that they expect a lot from their students but that is because they have our safety and the dogs well being to consider. A Guide Dog was the perfect choice for me and I am eternally grateful for being accepted and aided through the training process by individuals whose primary concern were my needs and how best to help me reach my goal of independent travel as a blind individual. No one loves their white cane no matter how skilled they are at using it. But I love my Guide Dog and what I get back from that relationship is far more than I ever imagined.

Review from Guidestar

Larry C.4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

2019 / 2020....I’m a volunteer here and it couldn’t be better...I have made some friends here, love our commitment to the mission and know we are valued everyday...the people I talk to all feel that way

Don’t know what happened before regarding leadership, but the current paid staff are all very supportive of us and the volunteer coordinator and her staff are extremely organized, communicate clearly and express their gratitude all the time ...what a pleasure to be here, interact with the staff, volunteers, students and help make a difference ....

7

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 1

I worked for GDB (CA) for nearly 10 years. Although the mission is good, the upper management and leadership is in dire need of a complete and total reorganization. They mostly consist of people that have worked there way too long, have become extremely lazy and negative, and treat all the other employees terribly. I have never worked somewhere that caused me so much sadness and anguish.

Review from Guidestar

6

Volunteer

Rating: 1

I was a breeder custodian volunteer for over 10 years. I have seen the changes in the organization over the years. I do not think there is a great appreciation for what volunteers do. I speak mostly with my experience in the Breeding Department. Volunteers are scolded instead of educated and often are made to feel like we should be lucky the organization "allowed" us to volunteer there. I have witnessed huge staff changes and rumors of employee dissatisfaction and internal turmoil. The image looks good but I'm not sure it is accurate to what is really going on there. I hope management and HR gets there act together. Their mission is a good one. I have chosen to volunteer elsewhere.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been a puppy raiser for about 7 years now. Every experience I've had with Guide Dogs has been amazing. Events are put on with minimal costs, but without sacrificing quality. I love that they do not charge for their graduate services. One of the puppies I raised graduated and was diagnosed with cancer shortly after. Guide Dogs sent a veterinarian to him and his owner to care for him free of charge, and luckily he is now cancer-free! Every step of the process is dedicated to making sure that the dogs and graduates are given the highest standard of care. My first puppy was diagnosed with parvovirus, which is deadly if not treated immediately. Guide Dogs insisted on sending him to the best animal hospital in the area, and covered all the costs for his week-long stay without hesitation. I truly love this organization.

Review from Guidestar

7

Donor

Rating: 1

As a donor for many, many years, I had a unreal and disillusioned idea what it was like at Guide Dogs for the Blind. They treat their staff and volunteers exceedingly terrible. Most of the long time employees and volunteers have left due to the lack of care for the clients, animals and staff within the organization. The staff and volunteers left are bottom of the barrel, which in turn only makes the lives of the animals and clients they serve even less desirable. All the organization cares about is numbers and money. You can see this even within their own website.

I would highly recommend people interested in donating and endorsing Guide Dogs for the Blind to look elsewhere. This organization is not what it appears.

10

Client Served

Rating: 1

GDB puts on a great front, but behind closed doors it's a different story. A story of an organization that sees its employees as disposable. Treats them with no respect, loyalty or heart. GDB may seem like an amazing organization, when in reality it is far from it. This is not a great nonprofit.

10

Volunteer

Rating: 1

I was very disappointed in my volunteer experience for Guide Dogs for the Blind. Ever changing staff including a multitude of CEO's presents trouble within the organization. So many dedicated staff members have left. Staff appear underappreciated and not valued much like I felt as a volunteer. With such a wonderful mission they really could do better.

2

Donor

Rating: 5

From the moment that I attended my first Guide Dogs for the Blind charitable event more than 15 years ago, I knew that this was an organization that I would support for life. The ballroom in San Francisco was filled to capacity for the annual Holiday Luncheon but despite being among thousands of strangers, I felt like I was welcomed to a family whose main goal was to support an organization that helped people by supporting these very special dogs. That mission has been the focus of Guide Dogs for the Blind since its inception in 1942. As if this event wasn’t enough to earn my loyalty and support, I attended several graduation ceremonies at the campus in San Rafael where the public can see, first-hand, the emotional connections that have been established with the dogs who have become certified “Guides”, the people receiving them as their “partner and eyes” for life and the families that opened their hearts and homes to raise the puppies only to turn them back to Guide Dogs for extensive training so that they can provide service to those visually impaired individuals in need of watchful eyes to follow and guide them through each step and challenge of life . When you hear the testimonials from the (human!) graduates who express such emotion at getting their eyes back through these magnificent animals, you better have lots of tissues on hand!

Over the years, through attending many events and becoming involved as a volunteer with the Legacy Society, I have maintained wonderful relationships with the many people I have been fortunate to meet who are employees and supporters of this outstanding organization. Without hesitation, I would encourage you to experience the exceptional efforts and atmosphere at Guide Dogs for the Blind and see what a difference you can make in someone’s life!

Donna O
Walnut Creek, CA

Review from Guidestar

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

Guide Dogs For the Blind has given me two wonderful guide dog companions--both my guides have made travel, running errands and moving around at work easier and fun. They have recently made several changes to their curriculum and to their facilities which for me makes them the top training facility in the country.
I highly recommend them to any blind person looking for a guide dog.

Belo Cipriani

Review from Guidestar

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been active volunteer at GDB for over 10 years in a variety of exciting and fulfilling positions: puppy kennel, dog walking, various kennel work, campus guide, assisting in administrative duties and fund raising, plus interacting with new students. I thoroughly believe in the mission of GDB and derive great pleasure from helping our students.

Review from Guidestar

2

Donor

Rating: 5

Guide Dogs for the Blind brings independence and security to vision impaired people who, without their dogs, would not have the confidence to maneuver in the day to day world. To watch this partnership exist and evolve is a miracle in action. I get a great deal of satisfaction knowing my efforts are being put to good use and very deserving people are reaping the benefits. It's a magical partnership to see the dogs with their owners.

Review from Guidestar

2

Donor

Rating: 5

I am a 13 year volunteer and major donor of Guide Dogs for the Blind in San Rafael, CA. I am fortunate enough to have recently adopted an 11 year old retired guide and also have had a nine year old career change dog for 7-1/2 years both from Guide Dogs. I volunteer as a kennel assistant, a socializer of the whelping moms, a dog walker, provide distraction for the training department and occasionally foster dogs. Despite other reviewer's comments about leadership, I am so happy to say that it has changed dramatically over the past two years and the organization is now led by an amazing leadership team. In my humble opinion, Guide Dogs for the Blind (GDB) is the best guide dogs school in the country run with dedication to the visually impaired and a breeding, puppy raising and training program second to none. I am proud to volunteer and be a part of working with people with integrity and drive to provide excellent guide dogs at no cost to the student.

Review from Guidestar

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am a 15+ year volunteer and donor to Guide Dogs for the Blind. My volunteer capacity as puppy raiser, retired guide dog adopter and committee member give me a broad cross function view of different departments within this great organization. Over the past 2 years Guide Dogs for the Blind has been revolutionizing their positive training methods, hired a new CEO with a great background and continues to be the leading guide dog school with a strong future set of plans and goals.
As a donor I support their mission to provide the highest level of care and support to their graduate teams. They go above and beyond to ensure the health and well being of all their program dogs. Our retired guide dog experienced a medical condition that resulted in extensive vet bill which GDB generously covered. GDB is a stellar non profit and one I will continue to support.

Review from Guidestar

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am a volunteer foster care provider with GDB and have had a wonderful experience working with the organization. We have been fostering a 10-year-old guide with extensive medical needs for a little over two months, and Guide Dogs has provided excellent support every step of the way. From facilitating a comprehensive foster care training to covering all veterinary issues, whether large or small, the organization has helped with anything we have needed to take care of our foster dog. It has been a pleasure to foster our guide, and I would gladly work with GDB again.

Review from Guidestar

14

General Member of the Public

Rating: 1

Until such time that Guide Dogs for the Blind remediates a critical problem, potential donors should seriously consider whether their support for the organization is warranted.

Guide Dogs for the Blind (GDB) has an important and very worthwhile mission and helps people with a significant need.

However, the organization falls short in the delivery of its mission, the result of failures at the most critically important area, namely leadership.

GDB is on its fourth CEO in as many years and the second "interim" CEO in as many years. The recently departed CEO, Mr. Paul Lopez, was placed in the position after a lengthy executive search but suddenly "left to pursue other interests." A grassroots petition from GDB graduates and others apparently ousted Mr. Lopez. During his tenure, morale at the organization deteriorated and caused significant staff and graduate dissatisfaction. Some donors and volunteers have expressed dissatisfaction and decreased or eliminated their support. There is lingering fear among many that Bob Burke, the current interim CEO and staunch supporter of the changes and problems created by Mr. Lopez, is now at the helm of the organization which portends little, if any necessary change.

Mr. Lopez did not have the requisite skill sets or experience to effectively lead the organization. That the GDB board selected a mere eye care professional to head this $296 million non-profit organization speaks volumes about how little they value delivering the mission and adhering to stated values. Further, Mr. Lopez had a history of employee discrimination including court action.

Regardless of the particulars of the last CEO, it is impossible for any organization to carry out a cohesive and effective mission when the importance of selecting an adequate leader is so disregarded and consequently changed with such regularity.

Until such time that Guide Dogs for the Blind remediates this critical problem, potential donors should seriously consider whether their support for the organization is warranted

Review from Guidestar