The Guide Dog Foundation, an industry leader in guide and service dog training, celebrates its 75th anniversary this year. In 1946, five community leaders founded a guide dog school in Queens, New York, to provide guide dogs at no charge for blind or visually impaired individuals, including veterans who had returned from the battlefields of Europe and the Pacific. Seventy-five years later, the Foundation remains devoted to its mission to improve the quality of life for people who are blind, have low vision, or other special needs.
The Foundation kicked off its 75th Anniversary on Monday, Feb. 1, in recognition of the completion of its first guide dog class in 1946, with a special birthday party-themed puppy livestream at its campus in Smithtown, New York. On Thursday, Feb. 4, the Foundation hosted a car parade to continue the week of celebration. Trainers, staff, puppies and dogs, dressed in party hats and holding signs, lined the Foundation’s 10-acre campus. Long Island-based volunteers, donors and supporters were able to caravan through the grounds to celebrate this milestone.
“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,” said John Miller, president & CEO of the Guide Dog Foundation. “It brings all of us at the Foundation great pride and joy to be able to provide these life-changing dogs to individuals who are blind or have low vision for 75 years. As we continue to further our mission, we remain a committed advocate for the disability community.”
To celebrate more than seven decades of this vital work, Guide Dog Foundation partners Nylabone and KONG have generously donated dog toys and bones to be presented to program puppies and dogs, and to recent Foundation graduates and their new guide dogs. Additionally, a new virtual run and dog walk fundraising event, as well as several new 75th-themed program sponsorships have been created to support the Foundation as it continues to fulfill its mission to provide these life-changing dogs at no cost to the individual.
Recent program graduate and Team USA Paralympian swimmer Anastasia Pagonis shared the positive change in her life since she partnered with guide dog Radar: “Having Radar has just given me so much confidence and independence – and I’m so in love with him. He’s the best thing ever. We’re a match made in heaven.”
It costs over $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. All of its funding comes from the generous contributions of individuals, fundraising events (such as the canine couture fashion show “Dogs on the Catwalk”), corporations, foundations, businesses, and community organizations. To learn more about Guide Dog Foundation, or to purchase tickets to the annual fundraising event, slated for October, visit GuideDog.org.
Follow the @GuideDogFoundation on Facebook and Instagram, @GuideDogFdn on Twitter, throughout the year as it journeys through its storied history.
For 75 years, the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind, Inc. (www.GuideDog.org), has trained and placed guide and service dogs to provide independence, enhanced mobility, and companionship to people who are blind, have low vision, or have other special needs. The Guide Dog Foundation is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization serving clients from across the United States and Canada. The Foundation relies on contributions from generous individuals, corporations, service clubs, and foundations to fund its mission to serve people with disabilities. Its sister organization, America’s VetDogs, trains and provides guide, service, and hearing dogs for disabled veterans and first responders. The Guide Dog Foundation was the first assistance dog school in the United States to be accredited by both the International Guide Dog Federation and Assistance Dogs International.