How COVID-19 is leading to a guide dog shortage in Canada
SASKATOON -- Closed borders and travel restrictions are putting pressure on Canada’s guide dog supply, according to the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB).
CNIB said it’s facing a guide dog shortage. The charity launched its guide dog program in 2017 to help blind or partially sighted Canadians live a more independent life.
Diane Bergeron, president of CNIB, said the organization has seen a 375 per cent increase in applicants to its guide dog program since the pandemic began.
“We’ve had an increase in demand and a decrease in supply,” Bergeron told CTV News.
CNIB relies on specialized guide dog training in the U.S and receives the puppies from a breeder in Australia.
“Given the pandemic, we haven't been able to get those dogs across the waters, over halfway around the world, to Canada. So our puppy program has seen a significant shortage,” Bergeron said.
To adapt, the charity is looking at breeding its own dogs.
“Guide Dogs for the Blind in California and has offered us a female to start our breeding programs so that that dog will be getting suited and we'll start doing our own breeding,” Bergeron said.
CNIB is hoping to have its first litter of puppies within the next few months.
It can cost about $50,000 to raise a single guide dog, from a puppy into retirement.
CNIB has launched a fundraising campaign, where proceeds will go towards the guide dog program shortage.