Natalie Di Paola

North Shore Petbarn stores are set to get involved in the Seeing Eye Dogs Appeal again this year to help raise money for those who are blind or have poor vision.

The Appeal, which launches nationally across Petbarn stores on May 1 to June 11, raises money to cover the costs of breeding, caring and training puppies and matching the dogs to as many people as they can. The total amount they hope to raise this year is $800,000.

North shore locals can get involved and show their support for the cause by visiting the Chatswood store and making a donation. Donations can also be made online.

The Chatswood Petbarn store is “very excited” to be involved in the Seeing Eye Dogs appeal again this year.

“Seeing Eye Dogs do more than just allow Australians who are blind or have low vision to retain their independence and mobility – they alleviate the effects of social isolation and contribute to an all-round better quality of life,” says Petbarn Chatswood Store Manager Mel Davidson.

“[We] are strongly encouraging the upper North Shore community to dig deep and help us reach our target.”

The contributions from the upper North Shore community and Australians nationwide meant that Petbarn was able to donate $679,240 to The Seeing Eye Dogs Appeal last year. This allowed for 13 Seeing Eye Dogs to be raised and trained.

It is no easy feat training Seeing Eye Dogs. Training one dog can take up to two years and costs around $50, 000. Their training must begin while they are still puppies and they are taught basic socialisation skills and obedience. Once they have reached maturity, they then spend at least six months on intensive and advanced training with a specialised instructor. Also, each puppy is fed precise and tailored premium nutrition during this time.

“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,” says David Speyer, General Manager of the Seeing Eye Dogs Appeal.

“A Seeing Eye Dog allows people who are blind or have low vision to move more confidently and navigate obstacles with reliability and safety.”

Pet food brand Royal Canin is kicking off the 2018 Appeal by donating $50,000 to the Petbarn Foundation, which will go straight to the Seeing Eye Dogs. Royal Canin has supported the organisation for over ten years by providing nutritious food to the dogs in training.