To train a Seeing Eye Dog can take up to two years and cost more than $50,000.
So for the past several years, The Petbarn Foundation and Vision Australia Seeing Eye Dogs have worked together to provide this vital service for people who are blind or have low vision.
Petbarn Mittagong will accept donations to the Seeing Eye Dogs Appeal until August 2.
The appeal aims to raise more than $500,000 to help cover the costs of breeding, training, and caring for at least 10 Seeing Eye Dogs.
Over the past six years, through the support of Australians across the country, The Petbarn Foundation's Seeing Eye Dogs Appeal has raised $3.2 million, enabling 70 Seeing Eye Dogs to be bred and trained.
Petbarn Mittagong store manager Sean McKinley said there were many ways Seeing Eye Dogs were able to assist their owners.
"Seeing Eye Dogs do more than just allow Australians with vision loss to retain their independence and mobility- they provide companionship, alleviate the effects of social isolation and contribute to all round better quality of life," he said.
"Seeing Eye Dogs is just another example of how animals can enrich our lives. We encourage everyone to visit our Petbarn stores or donate online to help continue to provide these special assistance dogs to people in the community."
Training begins when the dog is still a puppy and involves teaching them basic socialisation skills and obedience.
Once they mature, each dog receives up to six months of expert training with a specialised instructor.
Vision Australia Seeing Eye Dogs general manager Graeme Craig said the funds raised from the yearly campaign were vital.
"Our partnership with The Petbarn Foundation is integral to helping our Seeing Eye Dogs pups complete the extensive training they require.
"It takes a lot of expertise, time, love, patience and funding to raise these special dogs that will one day become the gift of independence for people who are blind or have low vision. For the right person, the highly trained dogs help them to move quicker and navigate obstacles with much more reliability and safety."
As part of this fundraising effort, on July 23, four Vision Australia Seeing Eye Dogs puppies will go head-to-head (and tail-to-tail) with the inaugural Seeing Eye Dogs Puppy Games.
To launch the Games, pet food brand Royal Canin will be matching each donation made from 12pm on game day up to a total of $50,000.
Visit thepuppygames.com.au for more information on The Puppy Games.
Donations for The Petbarn Foundation's appeal can be made online at petbarn.com.au/seda or by visiting a Petbarn store.
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