Guide Dogs Singapore aims to raise $100,000 to train two new guide dogs for people who are visually impaired

Guide dog Clare with her handler Mr Chia Hong Sen, with Senior Minister of State for Health Lam Pin Min at a Guide Dogs Singapore event in 2017.
Guide dog Clare with her handler Mr Chia Hong Sen, with Senior Minister of State for Health Lam Pin Min at a Guide Dogs Singapore event in 2017.PHOTO: GUIDE DOGS SINGAPORE
Last year, Guide Dogs Singapore paired its sixth guide dog-handler team, Mr Chia Hong Sen and Labrador retriever Clare.
Last year, Guide Dogs Singapore paired its sixth guide dog-handler team, Mr Chia Hong Sen and Labrador retriever Clare.PHOTO: GIVING.SG

SINGAPORE - The main charity in Singapore that pairs guide dogs with people who are visually impaired is hoping to raise $100,000 to train two new guide dogs.

Guide Dogs Singapore (GDS), a social service charity formed in 2006, has trained six guide dogs paired with six handlers since 2011.

GDS on Wednesday (April 18) said its goal of $100,000 would also be used to train 20 people with visual impairments to travel a new set of routes independently.

Its month-long campaign will culminate in International Guide Dog Day on April 25. So far, it has raised $1,575 from 25 donors on charity portal giving.sg

Last year, GDS paired its sixth guide dog-handler team, Mr Chia Hong Sen and Labrador retriever Clare.

It has encouraged more than 250 establishments in Singapore to become guide dog-friendly, with more than 55 locations joining the cause last year.

"Every day, guide dogs and professionals in the field work quietly to help people who are blind or have visual impairment," said GDS general manager Vanessa Loh. "As a society, we can do a lot more to encourage people with visual impairment to live their lives beyond their disability."

Training a guide dog is expensive and the waiting list for one is long. 

A spokesman for GDS told The Straits Times on Friday that it costs about $45,000 to graduate a guide dog team, including training and miscellaneous fees. 

GDS added that while guide dogs and their handlers face an "improved" situation in Singapore, guide dog handlers "still face rejection from business owners and private-hire drivers".

"Sometimes, they also face curious public members, who in their good hearts and inquisitiveness, approach the guide dog to show love and appreciation," said GDS.

"However, in doing so, it distracts the guide dog from its job, which endangers the guide dog team as both have been distracted and they lose orientation. Such inconveniences do hinder interested clients from eventually choosing a guide dog for now."