GUIDE DOG FOUNDATION CELEBRATES 70TH ANNIVERSARY

Guide dog school carries on mission of providing life-changing dogs free of charge

Smithtown, NY (February 22, 2016) – The Guide Dog Foundation, an industry leader in guide and service dog training, celebrates its 70th anniversary this year.  In 1946, after World War II, five community leaders founded a guide dog school in metropolitan New York to provide guide dogs at no charge for blind or visually impaired students, including veterans who had returned from the battlefields of Europe and the Pacific. Seventy years later, the Foundation remains dedicated to its mission to improve the quality of life for people who are blind, have low vision, or other special needs.

"The Guide Dog Foundation has achieved this milestone through the hard work and dedication of our volunteers, donors and staff, instilling a culture of service that exists throughout the entire organization,” says Wells Jones, CEO of the Guide Dog Foundation.  “In addition to providing our services and resources free of charge, we remain a committed advocate for the disability community.”

In the early days, experimentation with training was the norm.  Instructors – and students – worked together to determine what training methods worked best to create the finest team possible.  This commitment to excellence has since remained a guiding principle of the Foundation.  As the needs of students change, the Foundation responds with innovative training enhancements to meet those evolving needs.

The Training Campus
In the 1950s, the school built a training center in Smithtown, New York – a “miniature city” to simulate the same types of obstacles and hazards a guide dog team would encounter in their daily travels.  After a day or two of practice and work on campus, students begin facing “real-world” situations with their new guide dogs – crossing a busy intersection or walking down the street filled with pedestrians or navigating in a busy mall. 

In 2008, the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind became the first assistance dog school in the United States to be accredited by both the International Guide Dog Federation and Assistance Dogs International, the two international bodies that certify guide and service dog schools, respectively.  The Foundation has also consistently received high marks from charity watchdog organizations, including a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator.  

Today, the Guide Dog Foundation and its sister organization America’s VetDogs offer many training options to meet the needs of our consumers, with a core mission that remains the same as it was 70 years ago – to help people who are blind or visually impaired, or who have a disability other than blindness, achieve new independence and enhanced mobility. Click here to learn more about this history of the Foundation.

About the Guide Dog Foundation

For 70 years, the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind, Inc., has trained and placed guide and service dogs to provide independence, enhanced mobility, and companionship to people who are blind, have low vision, or who have other special needs.  The Guide Dog Foundation is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization that relies on contributions from generous individuals, corporations, service clubs, and foundations to fund its mission to serve people with disabilities. It costs more than $50,000 to breed, raise, train, and place one assistance dog, but the Guide Dog Foundation provides its services completely free of charge to the individual.  

The Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind was the first assistance dog school in the United States to be accredited by both the International Guide Dog Federation and Assistance Dogs International. 

To learn more or to donate, visit www.GuideDog.org.