Guide Dogs NSW/ACT is calling on locals in Wollongong, Kiama, Berry and Nowra to play an invaluable role in preparing a Guide Dog puppy it for its career as a life-changing Guide Dog, with its highly popular volunteer puppy raising program set to expand in the region.
Up to 30 Guide Dogs puppies will need to be placed from Wollongong through to Nowra, with the young pups requiring a warm, loving home for their first year.
Matt Walker, Team Manager of Guide Dogs NSW/ACT’s Wollongong Office said that as demand for Guide Dogs grows significantly within Australia due to our actively ageing population, so does the need to raise and train more Guide Dog puppies that will eventually go on to make a difference to the life of someone living with low vision.
“We are so excited to expand our puppy raising program in Wollongong and give locals here the opportunity to be a part of such a rewarding program. We value the strong supporter base we have in the South Coast region and it’s a great way that we can work with the local community to give more Guide Dog puppies the love and care they need during their first 12 months,” Mr Walker said.
Karen Hayter, Guide Dogs NSW/ACT’s Puppy Development Manager said puppy raising volunteers care for a Guide Dog puppy from when it is eight weeks old to 14 months old.
“As well as providing lots of love and cuddles, puppy raisers help introduce pups to the sights, sounds and smells it is likely to encounter as a Guide Dog,” Ms Hayter said.
Puppy raisers need to have a fully-fenced yard, be away from home no more than four hours at a time, have access to a car and be able to attend training days in their local area.
Puppy raisers must also be available for information sessions, vet checks and puppy pre-school when required.
“We are looking for people that are home most of the time, who are interested in putting effort into training and socialising the dog. What you will get in return is a fantastic experience,” Ms Hayter said.
While puppy raisers are responsible for everyday activities such as grooming, house training and exercising their pups, Guide Dogs NSW/ACT provides a strong support network.
“We provide the food, veterinary care, flea and tick prevention and a dedicated Puppy Development Advisor based in Wollongong will be on hand to answer any questions and provide guidance to our puppy raisers,” Ms Hayter said.
“Our volunteer puppy raisers make a wonderful contribution in helping to transform a playful puppy into a responsible Guide Dog that will one day change the life of someone who is blind or has low vision,” Ms Hayter added.
In Australia, 28 people are diagnosed with low vision that cannot be corrected every day, including nine who will become blind. An estimated 122,000 people in the state of NSW and the ACT have a vision impairment serious enough to affect their everyday lives.
It takes over two years and costs $50,000 to raise breed, raise and train each Guide Dog. Like all of the organisation’s services, Guide Dogs are provided at no cost to those who need them.
Guide Dogs NSW/ACT is accepting applications for volunteer Puppy Raisers in Wollongong, Kiama, Berry and Nowra at www.guidedogs.com.au or phone (02) 4579 7555.