PALMETTO — As financial woes continue to grip much of the country due to COVID-19, Southeastern Guide Dogs wants to make sure the recipients of its animals don’t have another thing to worry about.
Service dog and guide dog handlers can now get financial assistance for costs associated with their animals. Fromm Family Pet Food, Elanco, several veterinary practices and individual donors will now fund annual veterinary care, monthly preventives, vaccines and dog food to Southeastern Guide Dogs program graduates who need financial assistance.
Southeastern Guide Dogs has provided guide and service animals to veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, children going through challenges and people with disabilities for over 35 years. It’s one of 10 accredited guide dog organizations in North America.
The organization gives the animals, plus training and support, to those in need for free. Graduates of its training program receive in-home visits from certified trainers, telephone support and an annual alumni reunion.
Up until now, dog handlers were responsible for the costs associated with raising their animals. The expanded support for alumni, which can save handlers an estimated $1,000 a year, aims to make guide dogs more accessible to the people who need them.
“The people we serve tend to experience a high level of unemployment and limited, fixed incomes, so these benefits are making a significant difference in the quality of their lives,” said Southeastern Guide Dogs CEO Titus Herman in a news release.
Nearly 600 alumni of the Southeastern Guide Dogs program will be eligible for financial support.
“We don’t ever want it to be impossible for someone to afford one of our dogs,” said Southeastern Guide Dogs spokeswoman Ruth Lando.
For more information, visit guidedogs.org.