People with sight loss often say having a guide dog is a transformational experience. Being part of a guide dog team provides mobility, safety, and confidence, leading to increased independence and a sense of connection with the world. Fortunately, thanks to generous supporters from coast to coast to coast, we're working to meet the growing needs for guide dogs in Canada – one partnership at a time.
About the expansion campaign
Since the program started in 2017, the demand for CNIB Guide Dogs has never been higher. While our intention was always to increase capacity with gradually expanded funding, the pandemic rapidly expedited our need to grow, and created an urgency for additional funding to meet increasing demands.
How so? Travel restrictions – including border closures caused by COVID-19 – meant that many people with sight loss who previously travelled out of the country to obtain a guide dog no longer had that option. The resulting demand for CNIB Guide Dogs has been astronomical. Every week we continue to receive new applications for CNIB Guide Dogs – creating a staggering backlog of people waiting to be matched with a guide dog.
We’re working tirelessly to meet those demands for the Canadians with sight loss who need us. When our community needed us the most during border closers, we made the difficult decision to make critical and urgent investments in the growth of our guide dog program. We’ve had to accelerate the development of our program, which includes fundraising efforts like acquisition campaigns, direct marketing, and other means of raising money.
Why is it urgent?
The pandemic clarified and sharpened our understanding of the need for CNIB to accelerate the development of a sustainable, full-service guide dog program for Canadians who are blind or partially sighted.
Growth takes time and resources. Guide dogs require two years of intensive training and investment. It involves special techniques for raising puppies, training for all situations faced in the life of a handler, and screening for temperament and health. Our goal is to train 150 guide dogs each year, and your support will help enable us to do that.
To keep pace with the growth of our program, our training facility, Canine Campus, must also grow. Our Canine Campus is the place where our puppies go to learn all the skills they need to become successful guide dogs when they are between 12-15 months old. The Campus is made up of two wings where our pups are housed, cared for, and intensively trained by our team of expert, certified trainers and mobility instructors.
To secure long-term sustainability, address ongoing supply chain issues, and ensure the quality of guide dogs, we need to breed best-in-class dogs here in Canada. Our goal is to establish a breeding facility that will ensure Canadians always have access to guide dogs.
What goes into a guide dog program?
CNIB covers all costs from puppyhood to retirement, at no cost to the individual, at $50,000 per guide dog. Donations keep every part of CNIB Guide Dogs going – from helping us acquire new puppies, to covering the costs of veterinary care, food, harnesses, and toys, to continuing our fundraising efforts.
You can’t deliver a guide dog program without expert staff. Puppy Raising Supervisors, Guide Dog Trainers, Guide Dog Mobility Instructors and administrative staff are all essential members of the CNIB Guide Dogs team, without whom, the program simply wouldn't exist.
Donor support helps us with the everyday, too. Donations also ensure that our dogs receive everything they need on their guide dog journey – from veterinary care and food to expert training from some of the best guide dog trainers in the world. All of this brings our dogs one step closer to walking side-by-side with their new partners, helping them navigate this busy world we all share.