As wonderful as modern technology is, no invention comes close to the incredible accomplishments of a bright, willing, well-trained guide dog.
Since its founding through donations by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Union in 1948, Guide Dogs of America in Sylmar, California has helped blind men and women recover their ability to move freely and regain independence through partnership with these remarkable animals.
Due to the fact that our services are free of charge to the blind community, we depend solely on voluntary donations, bequests, fund raising events, clubs and organizations to support our program.
Your donation or bequest to Guide Dogs of America helps continue this legacy to provide the gift of freedom, mobility and independence through the use of these loving and loyal dogs.
To breed, raise and train a fully-qualified guide dog and provide instruction in the use of these special dogs for safe mobility costs approximately $38,000. Because of the continued support we receive from our donors, GDA has succeeded in providing all its services – guide dogs, specially designed harness, individualized in-residence training and lifetime follow-up, at no cost, to more than 2,500 blind recipients.
Guide Dogs of America is certified by the California State Guide Dog Board and is a member of the U.S. Council of Dog Guide Schools and the International Federation of Guide Dog Schools. The school is a non-profit charitable organization and all contributions made to Guide Dogs of America are tax-deductible to the extent provided by law.
Guide Dogs of America uses Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherds and Golden Retrievers. The majority come from our own breeding program.
At about 8 weeks, puppies are placed with volunteer foster families where they’ll play and cuddle, as well as learn house manners and basic obedience skills.
Our puppy raisers are on duty 24 hours a day, socializing their little students to the real world—introducing them to crowds of people, small children, elevators, buses, the noises of a parade, the quiet of a church—every possible situation they will encounter with their future human partner.
“My guide dog has improved my confidence BOTH physically AND emotionally to a level I never thought I would be able to attain. I could never think of being without him by my side.”
– Paul Jordan & Rawhide
The young dogs return to our Sylmar facility evaluation at 15 to 18 months, and continue to follow a four to six month training program that will qualify them for their new career.
Our veterinary care is state-of-the-art and includes any medical support the guide dog in training may require. Guide Dogs of America makes a lifetime commitment to the health, happiness and overall wellbeing of these gifted dogs.
Our state-licensed trainers serve a 3-year apprenticeship at Guide Dogs of America, becoming adept at working with blind individuals as well as training guide dogs. Their work lays the foundation for the next step: pairing the right dog with the right human partner to help both achieve their highest potential.
With my guide dog I am striding along faster and more confidently. He has deeply affected my life and outlook for I am in better health and am much more independent.
– David Bates & Stanley
Students reside in our comfortable dormitory for a month while they learn to work with and care for their new companions. Students and guide dogs are together round-the-clock: during meals, classroom sessions, and recreation. Staff attention is devoted exclusively to helping the new partners become comfortable with each other as they develop their skills.
“I didn’t think I had any love left to give until l got this guide dog puppy. She’s going to do great things someday!”
– Puppy Raiser
Trust is a special language between partners. Companionship, love and mobility without stress —these are the attributes that develop confidence and freedom. The “simple” ability to get around affects the kind of life a blind person can have. The added confidence that comes from working with a guide dog can influence their decision to try new social activities, to have a career or return to school.
“My guide dog is my friendly eyes.” – Robert Acosta & Arlo
You can change a life. To meet the demand, in a timely manner, we constantly need additional funds to train more dogs and graduate more teams. In order to continue this wonderful program —and expand it—we need you to become a partner too. Please add us to your annual contribution list and keep us in mind for special fund-raising projects.