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Leader Dogs needs volunteers

By: Linda Shepard | Rochester Post | Published October 14, 2015

 Volunteer puppy raisers and breeding stock hosts are needed at Leader Dogs for the Blind.

Volunteer puppy raisers and breeding stock hosts are needed at Leader Dogs for the Blind.

Photo provided by Leader Dogs for the Blind

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ROCHESTER HILLS — Volunteers are critical to the success of Leader Dogs for the Blind.

As puppy raisers and breeding stock hosts, volunteers assist the organization that empowers people who are blind, visually impaired or deaf-blind.

“We have an immediate need for volunteers,” said Bev Blanchard, Leader Dogs manager of canine development.

Volunteers who live near the Leader Dogs for the Blind site, at Rochester and Avon roads, are especially needed, Blanchard said.

“The closer to our organization the volunteers are, the more we can help them,” she said. “We work side by side with volunteers. It has allowed us to expand what we do and how well we do it.” 

Puppy raisers are responsible for housebreaking and teaching good manners, as well as basic obedience training. People who host breeding female dogs are responsible for keeping the dogs healthy and safe in their homes, whelping puppy litters, and caring for puppies for their first six to seven weeks of life.

“We have job descriptions on our website, hours of the week requirements, and job descriptions for puppy raisers and breeding hosts, so people know what the expectations are,” Blanchard said. “We want to make sure they are the right fit for us and we are the right fit for them.”

Puppy raisers are required to make a 12- to 15-month commitment, and volunteers must live within one hour’s distance from Leader Dogs’ Rochester Hills location. Raisers are also responsible for socializing puppies to different environments, people, animals and situations. Having raised or owned a puppy in the past is not a requirement.

Volunteering to be a breeding stock host is a long-term position that provides homes for Leader Dogs’ breeding stock dogs during the time they are producing puppies for the program. Volunteers hosting male dogs are required to be located within four hours of Leader Dogs’ Rochester Hills campus; volunteers hosting female dogs may live up to eight hours away.

Since 1939, Leader Dogs for the Blind has provided independent mobility to more than 14,500 individuals — delivering skills for a lifetime of independent travel and opening doors that may seem to have closed with the loss of sight, free of charge. The organization also provides specialty classes and holds a summer camp for teens.

Leader Dogs volunteer positions have transportation requirements and financial obligations, including providing food for the dogs. Volunteers are provided with ongoing support by the Leader Dogs organization throughout the experience, which ranges from free veterinary care to training support.

“The future of our guide dog program depends on volunteers who provide loving homes for our Leader Dog puppies and host specially selected breeding dogs,” Sue Daniels, Leader Dogs president, said in a statement. “This dedicated group of volunteers directly contributes to a puppy’s chance of becoming a Leader Dog.”

To apply as a volunteer or for more information, visit www.leaderdog.org. or call (888) 777-5332.

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