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Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind - America's Vetdogs (Chief Executive Officer)

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Since 1946, the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind (GDF) has improved the quality of life for people who are blind, have low vision, or have other special needs. GDF began with the mission to provide guide dogs and training free of charge, and has expanded opportunities, enhanced mobility and companionship, increased independence, and improved the lives of those they serve for more than 70 years. Since the 1950s, the Smithtown, NY training center has continued to meet students’ changing needs through innovative training enhancements and by providing an environment where students can learn safely with caring instructors.

In 2003, GDF created America’s VetDogs (AVD) to enhance the quality of life for disabled veterans, active-duty service members, and first responders, enabling them to honorably live with dignity, self-reliance, and renewed independence. Today AVD is the largest organization of its kind in providing assistance (Guide, Service and Hearing) dogs for veterans and first responders. PTSD service dogs have helped mitigate the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder; hearing dogs assist those who have lost their hearing later in life. AVD facilitates the rehabilitation process in military and VA hospitals by placing physical and occupational therapy dogs in military medical centers to work with service members recovering from amputations or other injuries. In 2006, AVD became a separate 501(c)(3) corporation.

GDF/AVD produce and train 120 guide/service dog teams annually with a staff of 100 FTE, 1500 national volunteers, and a combined budget of $15M. The organizations' integrated client-driven and continuously refined programming, along with the dedication of their stakeholders and volunteers, guarantee service and guide dog users fewer boundaries, a newfound sense of independence and pride, and individualized services and support for applicants. People with disabilities become part of the organizations’ welcoming community full of highly empathetic team members including certified trainers who build a meticulously constructed curriculum (individualized for personal needs) and have an unwavering commitment to excellence.

GDF’s and AVD’s guide and service dogs provide support in daily activities as well as motivation to tackle new challenges. GDF and AVD are internationally recognized for innovative excellence in service and guide dog training, and dedication to providing the best resources and services possible to people with disabilities.
In 2008, the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind became the first assistance dog school in the United States to be dual certified by the International Guide Dog Federation and Assistance Dogs International. In 2013, America's VetDogs became the second assistance dog school in the United States to be dual certified by the International Guide Dog Federation and Assistance Dogs International.

Accreditation reinforces the organizations’ reputation in the assistance dog movement by affirming the consistently high standards for the highest quality, humane and ethical treatment of dogs and dedication to maintaining educational benchmarks.

To learn more about the history of the Foundation, please visit www.guidedog.org.