May 03

LET’S GIVE ‘EYES' TO THOSE WHO CAN’T SEE

LET’S GIVE ‘EYES' TO THOSE WHO CAN’T SEE

They say that a dog is a human’s best friend. But a service dog is so much more – a best friend, a faithful companion, the apple of one’s eye and even a guardian angel. However, like with everything that is good in the world, there is a lack of service dogs in Latvia.

For this reason, the service dog association Teodors is starting their campaign Acis iet skolā (Eyes are Going to School). We will be able to follow the central character of the campaign – 6 month old Labrador girl Joko. Joko has all the prerequisites to become an assistant to a visually impaired person. In order to achieve this goal, there is still a lot of hard, persistent and costly work ahead. But together we can help Joko get there.

Apart from her training, Joko feels rather comfortable in the limelight too. Recently she was a guest on the TV show Pusnakts šovs septiņos ar Jāni Skuteli (The Midnight Show with Jānis Skutelis), where she demonstrated that she is not only intelligent and obedient, but also predicted how Latvia will fare in the Ice Hockey World Championship. Joko thinks that we will win medals.

With the help of the campaign Acis iet skolā (Eyes are Going to School) we want to raise funds for the training of a service dog and raise public awareness about the importance of training service dogs. Through the campaign we can follow Joko’s training and get acquainted with people who have special needs. They need service dogs to help them do many everyday activities that seem self-explanatory to us. The service dog can find and place various objects in their hands, such as lost keys, a walking stick and slippers. The service dog helps a visually impaired person get to work and back home, as well as to get on the public transport, find a shop, etc. In other words – the service dog helps the visually impaired person lead a better life.

In Latvia, service dogs can be seen comparatively rarely, yet they could help hundreds of visually impaired people. Currently there are 9478 visually impaired individuals in Latvia. According to the data of the Agricultural Data Centre, currently there are 13 service dogs registered. That means that there is only one service dog for every 729 people! Ten of the registered service dogs have been trained and prepared by the Teodors association. These dogs are currently successfully fulfilling their service duties.

The goal of the campaign is to raise funds of at least EUR 20 000, in order to raise, train and register 2 more service dogs. To prepare one service dog, at least 2.5 years must be dedicated to training and care. The actual expenses for one service dog are EUR 25 000, however, with the support of service dog association Teodors, as well as dog handlers and voluntary work it is possible to train the service dogs for the mentioned sum. 

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