Call for support for new puppy program

Zena Gomes (manager Mobility Services) with Sundae and Arnold
Zena Gomes (manager Mobility Services) with Sundae and Arnold

Community visited the two-month-old labrador pups at the Perron Centre in Victoria Park and discovered they are some of the newest members of a Guide Dogs WA plan to expand the availability of trained canines to West Australians with vision impairment.

By July 2014, Guide Dogs WA hope to have 17 new puppy recruits in the expanded program and Sundae, of Sorrento, and Arnold, of Wanneroo, are two of seven pups that have begun the two-year journey to becoming guide dogs.

It costs $30,000 over two years to train a guide dog, with money provided by community donations and corporate sponsorship, but as mobility services manager Zena Gomes said, every little bit helps.

Ms Gomes said some families donated money via the Puppy Pals program to provide essential equipment to help the dogs in their first two years, including raincoats for winter, boots for the hot weather, toys, pet first aid kits and hydrobaths.

‘Any donation is welcome. By 2016 we aim to have 80 guide dog teams in WA but we can only do this with the support of the community and our sponsors,’ she said.

‘The $30,000 funds their training, equipment and veterinary costs and the sponsor has a chance to name the puppy and follow its journey to becoming a guide dog.

The dogs are provided free of charge to people with blindness or severe vision impairment.’

About 30 people are on the waiting list for a guide dog, 10 of these are in immediate need.

There are currently 45 guide dog teams in WA and about 30 volunteer puppy trainers in the metro area.