Thanks to Stuff.co.nz for this news.
Blind see red over guide dog funds
By MICHAEL FIELD – The Dominion Post
A charity funding some of New Zealand’s hardest working and most expensive dogs wants the Government to help out with its costs.
And the Royal New Zealand Foundation for the Blind (RNZFB) says its 280 guide dogs working throughout the country offer a real cost benefit to taxpayers.
Communications director Patrick Holmes said the foundation believed strongly the Government should help with the $22,500 per dog.
“This is a way of empowering the blind and visually impaired, giving them independence and ultimately, allowing them to live the life they want to lead,” he said.
They would be lobbying the Government this year for money.
“My dream would be that guide dogs be fully-funded.”
The foundation has to raise around $3.5 million annually to operate its sophisticated guide dog breeding and training centre in South Auckland.
It expects to raise around $1 million in a public “Red Puppy Appeal” next week. The campaign works off the red jacket the guide dog puppies wear with volunteer puppy walkers before training.
Mr Holmes said guide dogs made people independent and many of those who used them could not imagine life without them.
“There would be a cost benefit for the Government. The more people we can get to lead independent lives, then the more they are able to contribute to society in the wider sense.
“There is an enormous benefit to the Government.”
Guide dog trainer Angie Coupar said the demand for guide dogs was increasing and currently they were training around 50 a year. Dogs could only usefully act as guides for eight to 10 years before retirement.