On January 29, the oldest guide dog school in the world celebrated 90 years of working to enhance the independence and dignity of people who are blind and visually impaired, allowing them to retain their active lifestyles despite blindness. Founded in 1929, the 501(c)3 non-profit pioneered the assistance dog training movement and rights to public access in the United States. The non-profit breeds, raises and trains German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, and Golden Retrievers, and is supported by contributions from individuals, corporations and foundations, bequests, and other planned gifts.
“When The Seeing Eye was founded in 1929, people who are blind were treated much differently than they are today,” said Seeing Eye President & CEO Jim Kutsch. “When Dorothy Harrison Eustis trained Buddy, the first Seeing Eye dog, she was ahead of her time. She told our co-founder Morris Frank that Buddy would not be much help to him if businesses wouldn’t allow him to enter with his dog. As a result, Morris Frank and Buddy became traveling spokespeople for the guide dog movement.”
The Seeing Eye’s co-founder Morris Frank and his Seeing Eye dog are credited with paving the way for the nationwide acceptance of service dogs leading to the drafting and subsequent passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, granting the right of public access to people assisted by service dogs. Today, The Seeing Eye continues to honor the legacy of Morris Frank and Buddy by educating the public about the rights of people with disabilities and pursuing legislation that protects guide dog teams.
“I know our founders would be proud of what they set in motion 90 years ago. We look forward to the next 90 years, and beyond, as we continue to be an innovator and pioneer in the field of breeding, raising, and training outstanding Seeing Eye dogs for people who are blind and visually impaired,” added Kutsch.