The Israel Guide Dog Center for the Blind began operations on January 1, 1991 with just one objective -- to help blind people in Israel to achieve independence and mobility through the use of guide dogs.
From 1953 to 1970, Prof. Dr. Rudolphina Menzel, a psychologist and dog trainer, prepared guide dogs to assist blind Israelis to become more independent and lead as normal a life as possible. There was no one to continue this work at the time of her death in 1970 and Israel was left with no guide dog training center, but with many blind Israelis, both civilians and war veterans. Sending blind Israelis to training centers in the United States solved the problem.
But this was a very partial solution. Only blind Israelis who could understand and communicate in English were sent to guide dog schools in the United States for instruction. Many, unable to comply with these criteria, could not participate and simply never received a guide dog. Even the lucky ones who received a guide dog from overseas found that if a problem with the guide dog arose later on, there was no one to provide the follow up (after care) service so vital to a successful "Partnership" (blind person and dog). The Israel Guide Dog Center for the Blind was established to fill this need.
Training costs for a guide dog, from the moment of birth until it leaves the Center with a blind Israeli, are approximately $25,000. The blind person receives the guide dog, instruction and regular home visits during the working life of the dog at no charge.
Where do the funds come from? The Israel Guide Dog Center for the Blind is a registered non-profit organization supported almost entirely by donations and bequests from individuals, and by foundations, companies and organizations "with vision" that believe in our humanitarian work. Their assistance allows us to continue and develop our work, and provide blind Israelis with a chance to enjoy freedom, safe mobility, and independence.
Israel has over 27,000 registered blind people, although unofficial estimates place this figure much higher. Of these, over 420 are guide dog assisted, but this number is growing steadily as the number of graduates from the Center increases annually.
First-hand impressions are the best ones. For a blind person, "seeing" is believing in his guide dog. For the rest of us, seeing the Center is believing what can be achieved with help from our wonderful friends. If you would like further details, or would like to visit us at our Beit Oved campus, just a 20 minute drive south of Tel Aviv. We'd love to hear from you.
Amit Bar-El was a soldier fighting house-to-house during the 2006 Lebanon War. As he rushed to the aid of a wounded comrade, Amit opened a door only to have a rocket fly past and explode in the wall next to him. He received multiple shrapnel wounds
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