Is a guide dog right for you?
At Southeastern Guide Dogs, we believe in the transformative power of partnership. Whether you’re seeking your first guide dog or are a returning handler, our guide dogs are not just pets; they are highly trained companions that provide independence, confidence, and mobility to those with visual impairments. Each guide dog partnership is filled with dedication, love, and a deep understanding of its handler’s unique needs, ensuring a bond that transcends the leash.
Embarking on the path toward a partnership with a guide dog can be a significant step. That’s why we’ve created a simple 10-15 minute pre-assessment to determine if a guide dog aligns with your lifestyle and requirements. There’s no commitment, just an opportunity to explore possibilities and recognize the remarkable difference a guide dog can make for you.
The journey to a fulfilling partnership begins with understanding. Our guide dogs are more than just animals; they are friends, guides, and enablers of a better future. The relationship between a guide dog and its handler is built on profound trust and cooperation, enhancing your ability to navigate the world with grace, safety, and confidence.
At Southeastern Guide Dogs, we’re with you every step of the way. Our team of professionals is here to support you every step of the way, from your initial pre-assessment to the joyful day you meet your new four-legged friend.
Take the first step toward a more independent and fulfilling life today. Discover how Southeastern Guide Dogs can unveil a world of opportunities by spending just a few moments with our pre-assessment. Ready to embark on your transformational journey?
Guide Dog Eligibility Criteria
- Visual Impairment: You must demonstrate a need for additional navigational assistance due to a significant visual impairment.
- Age Requirement: To ensure maturity, understanding, and responsibility, you must be at least 15 years old.
- Residency: Residency in the United States or the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico is required to facilitate a successful partnership.
- Criminal Background Check: A criminal background examination is conducted, and a felony conviction results in automatic disqualification. Other offenses are evaluated based on their nature and severity.
- Sobriety Confirmation: Documentation confirming a minimum of one year’s continuous sobriety is required for those with a history of substance misuse.
- Training and Proficiency: Completion of formal Orientation & Mobility training and proficiency in using a white cane are necessary for safe and independent navigation.
- Comfort with Handling Dogs: Comfort and proficiency in handling a large-breed dog weighing 50 to 80 pounds are essential. We want to ensure that both you and your guide dog are comfortable throughout your partnership.
- Physical Stamina: Having physical stamina for regularly participating in physically demanding outdoor activities, such as long walks, is required. For this reason, please note that we do not currently place guide dogs with individuals in wheelchairs or individuals receiving dialysis. We want to ensure the safety and well-being of both the individual and the guide dog.
- Cognitive Ability: It is important that you possess the cognitive ability to grasp and consistently apply dog training concepts. This includes the capacity to work with and handle a guide dog appropriately.
- Long-Term Commitment: The commitment and ability to maintain an active lifestyle with a guide dog for the next 7-9 years are essential.
- Additional Dogs: Guide dogs are only placed in homes with up to two additional dogs to minimize distractions. This ensures that your guide dog can focus on their duties and provide you with the best possible support.
- Safe and Supportive Environment: A safe, loving, and stable home environment with the support of all household members is required.
- Interview Requirement: Participation in an in-depth phone or home interview is necessary during the application process. This allows us to get to know you better and understand your needs and expectations.
- Online University Training: Completion of the comprehensive Online University guide dog training program is mandatory before attending in-person training. This program equips you with the knowledge and skills necessary for a successful partnership.
- In-Person Training: Your successful guide dog partnership requires your full engagement in our rigorous 20-day training course at our Palmetto, Florida campus. This training will prepare you for a strong bond with your guide dog and provide you with the necessary tools for success.
- Ongoing Communication: Ongoing communication with Southeastern Guide Dogs at least once a year is required for the duration of the partnership. We value your feedback and want to ensure that you and your guide dog are thriving.
- Expenses and Care: Southeastern Guide Dogs is proud to provide your guide dog with high-quality food, monthly preventatives, vaccinations, and annual veterinary wellness visits, all at no cost to you. However, guide dog handlers must have the means to cover any additional expenses related to the ongoing care and maintenance of their guide dogs.