Process and Costs
|A man with a visual impairment has a spotter helping him while lifting weights.|
A person must be legally blind in order to apply for a guide dog. An application is the first step of the process, and it needs to be completed so that it demonstrates the daily physical activity level of the visually impaired person. It is also important that the person applying for the guide dog is able to demonstrate how he/she is presently able to travel to various destinations independently (i.e., grocery store, meeting a friend for lunch, work, etc.). Once that is completed, an in-home interview is conducted to verify that the individual with the visual impairment is able to physically work with a guide dog (the applicant must be able to walk 1 mile) and that his/her home environment is suitable for a guide dog.
Medical verification of the visual disability must be obtained in one of the final steps of applying for a guide dog. If the applicant is approved after all these steps, he/she can then travel to a guide dog training center to be taught how to work with his/her new canine friend. This training can last anywhere from 2 to 3 weeks. Once training is complete, the guide dog can go home with his/her new owner free of charge. Most guide dogs begin their careers at age 2 and can be in service for 6 to 8 years.