The Lions Club is getting set to host its annual fundraising Walk for Dog Guides on May 29.
“A dog guide makes such an incredible difference in the lives of people who need their service,” said Deb Cserhalmi, president of the Floradale Friends of Dog Guides Lions Branch Club.
“For the last couple of years, of course, it’s been a virtual walk. So the money raised wasn’t as much as what we usually get for an in person walk,” Cserhalmi said.
The foundation estimates it costs $35,000 for one dog guide to be bred, raised, trained and placed with a person in need. All of the dogs from the Lions Foundation are provided free of charge.
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The local foundation has surpassed their fundraising goal of $3,000 with a total of more than $7,000 so far.
“We’ve got a lot of support – it’s amazing. Our little branch club only has five people. We do auctions online a couple of times a year,” she said, noting people are so supportive in both donating to the auction and bidding on items.
“If it’s a $25 gift card, they’ll bid $30 and give us more money than we actually have asked for,” added Cserhalmi.
For the first year of their lives, dogs are placed in a foster home, they will then spend the next four to six months in training to provide support in one of seven areas such as vision, hearing or autism assistance.
While the pandemic has an impact on fundraising it has also had an impact on the dogs, as they have missed out on fundraisers and awareness events that help prepare them for being dog guides, Cserhalmi said.
“We’ve called them the pandemic puppies. And they had very little socialization, because we couldn’t go out. So they didn’t have all that experience of all the things that they might meet as a graduate guide dog. That’s a disadvantage to them.”
Cserhalmi also pointed out the importance of not interfering with a dog guide while it is working.
“The main thing is always ask whether you can pet the dog, because a person might be training the dog, doing commands and trying to get them not to go up to strangers and stuff like that
“Don’t distract it. Don’t call it baby names and bark at it. You don’t do that to any dog. I find it very strange,” she said.
The walk will start at 11 a.m. at Kissing Bridge Trail; all are welcome, including those without dogs. Click here for information or to make a donation.