Puppies transforming lives

The journey to becoming a guide dog is not an easy one, costing approximately $175,000 to raise, train, and maintain one guide dog in service.

Dan and Ezra.

Training to become a guide dog is one of the most rigorous programmes among all service animals, requiring immense dedication and resources. Once trained, the dogs help their handlers live safer, more independent lives.

Blind Low Vision NZ (BLVNZ) Guide Dog Puppy Appeal week is taking place across New Zealand this week, with collectors out and about 22-23 March. This annual event aims to support blind and low vision people by providing them with highly trained guide dogs to enhance their independence and navigate the challenges of daily life. Donations directly contribute to raising and training puppies, as well as to helping reduce the waiting list for guide dogs.

“With an average wait time of 552 days to receive a guide dog and 27 clients currently awaiting a match, the Guide Dog Puppy Appeal Week is essential in reducing this waiting list,” says Andrea Midgen, Chief Executive of BLVNZ. “Together, we can create a new generation of guide dogs and bring hope to those currently on the waiting list.”

BLVNZ Guide Dogs


Chief Executive Andrea Midgen with puppy-in-training Ralph

Blind Low Vision NZ has 129 dogs in training, and 144 active guide dog teams across the country. Among the recipients is Christchurch-based Dan Shepherd, who has his dog Ezra. Dan was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa at the age of 15, and was matched with his first guide dog, three-year-old Ezra, just over two years ago.

In New Zealand, an estimated 193,000 individuals live with blindness or low vision, with someone new being diagnosed every three hours.

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