The National Guide Dog Breeding Center is bracing for one of its busiest Christmas periods on record after Covid-19 forced its breeding program to end for the first time in addition to a half-century.
The charity suspended operations for three months from March, when the UK was hit by the first wave of the pandemic.
But the charity says every hour a person in the UK goes blind – and with two million people living with loss of sight, the service has never been more in demand.
As a result, the center, near Leamington Spa, is now raising more than 100 puppies under seven weeks old, with the dogs embarking on a life-changing ‘career’ in helping visually impaired people live the life. that they choose.
Around 30 puppies and their moms are expected to be at the center over Christmas, along with 30 adult dogs. Last year there were no puppies at the center until December 30.
To accompany the dogs, a team of around twenty people will work 24/7 at the breeding center during the end of the year celebrations.
Among these are Janine Dixon and Erica Cromack, who have over 50 years of experience with guide dogs.
Janine said: âIn my 25 years of working at Guide Dogs, there is no doubt that 2020 has been one of the most difficult.
âOur canine care team at the National Breeding Center has worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic, to ensure that our puppies, as well as our guide dog moms and dads, receive the highest level of care, despite lock restrictions.
“I would like to warmly thank the team for their incredible dedication and for making sure our dogs are always at the heart of what we do.”
The association also has a hospital block for specialized care and remains available to accommodate all dogs needing additional postoperative or medical support.
Along with the puppies on site, dedicated volunteers will take care of dozens of others at home.
Matthew Bottomley, Head of Breeding Operations at Guide Dogs, said: âThe breeding program has been running for over 50 years and 2020 is the first time in history that we have been forced to shut down operations.
âChristmas is going to be a very busy time for us and as our dogs need 24 hour care and attention, we will have staff and volunteers working around the clock to make sure everything runs smoothly.
âHelping a puppy become a guide dog is hard but extremely rewarding work and we are thrilled to be giving our latest litters the best possible start in life. “
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