Southeastern Guide Dogs
Publix – “Not just a supermarket”
We’re Making a Difference in the Communities We Serve
For many, having a four-legged furry friend at home means having another member of the family. For those visually impaired or blind, having a trained guide dog is ensuring a better quality of life and gained independence. This is where Southeastern Guide Dogs, a 501c3 nonprofit, established in 1983 in Palmetto, Fla. comes into play. One of only 12 facilities in the country and the only one in the southeast, their mission is to create and nurture a partnership between a visually impaired individual and a guide dog, facilitating life’s journey with mobility, independence and dignity.
Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers or Goldadores—a blend of labrador and goldens are born and bred on the organizations 23-acre campus and at around the nine week mark, the puppies are sent to live with their puppy-raiser families for approximately one year and then returned to campus to begin their intensive training. At any given point in time, over 200 dogs are on campus working with certified trainers in some capacity. With the help of veterinarians, volunteers and trainers, these special dogs take a journey toward a lifetime of service in the Paws for Independence program.
Dogs that show a talent for serving in the role as guide dogs are paired up with handlers. The dogs and the handlers work together to complete a 26-day on-campus training program to help the dog and partner bond. If dog and handlers are successful, they’ll graduate together and the dog will begin service.
While Southeastern Guide Dogs focuses mostly on the needs of the visually impaired, the organization has also become involved in service to veterans. The organization’s Paws for Patriots program offers the dogs in service to veterans who may need additional support when returning from combat. The program for veterans follows the same program used for members of the public who are visually impaired.
Some dogs may not have the ability to serve as guide dogs. In those cases, the dogs may enter the Gifted Canines program and serve in other important capacities, including as public service dogs (search and rescue) or as ambassador dogs who help with schools and hospitals outreach. Others are involved in therapy sessions, including listening as children with learning disabilities read to them.
The services Southeastern Guide Dogs provides are at no cost to program participants. The organization has helped match more than 2,500 highly trained canines and partners.
How you can help
You can help make a difference by volunteering, which includes:
March, 2013March is Red Cross Month
February, 2013Heart Health—Do It For Love
January, 2013Lauren’s Kids
“It’s OK to Tell”
December, 2012Food for Sharing
October, 2012Big Brothers Big Sisters
“Starting Something Since 1904”
July, 2012Southeastern Guide Dogs