By Dick Andrews
Past District Governor Bob Jones was the guest speaker at the Lions dinner meeting on April 9. He spoke to the group about the Leader Dog for the Blind program and the Capital Campaign to rebuild the Leader Dog training facility. The program that uses model inmates at several correction facilities to raise and train the puppies during the first year. According to Jones, to date 500 puppies have gone through this program and the inmates have a 55% success rate, which is 11% higher than puppies raised by the general population.
The Leader Dog program is one way that the Lion Clubs work to improve the every day life of a blind person. Leader Dogs for the Blind is located in Rochester, Michigan. The school has trained over 12,000 Leader Dogs since beginning in 1939. The school strives to minimize the challenges of blindness by providing safe and independent travel for approximately 270 student and dog teams each year. Students range from 18 to 90 years of age and must attend a 26-day training session. The program is completely free, the only requirement is that students be prepared, mentally and physically, to care for and use the dog in the intended manner.
The cost of each Leader Dog team is over $17,000. There are many ways that individuals can help this worthy program. There is Puppy rising, the Dog Breeding program, Dog donation and personal contributions. For more information on any of these programs, individuals are encouraged to contact Leader Dogs for the Blind at 888-777-5332 or visit their web site at www.leaderdog.org.