Samsung Guide Dog School for the Blind & Guide Dogs for the Blind USA team together for cross-cultural initiative
As testament to the strong partnership between international guide dog schools, the Guide Dogs for the Blind USA and the Samsung Guide Dog School for the Blind in South Korea, have announced the mutual exchange of dogs destined to help provide a means of safe mobility for people who are blind.
The transfer of two breeding stock dogs from the US to the Samsung Guide Dog School for the Blind is the first in a trio of similar initiatives planned for South East Asia. The GDB USA will donate dogs to the Asian Guide Dog Breeding Network (AGBN) to help strengthen the breeding stock of guide dog schools in Taiwan and Japan.
Puppies from all of the dogs donated as part of this programme will be distributed amongst 11 members of AGBN to help alleviate the long waiting lists of blind people seeking the lifestyle of working with guide dogs.
Birch, a female yellow labrador, travelled to Korea during her first month of pregnancy. She was accompanied by Merced, a male breeder dog. Together, the two will enrich the existing breeding colony managed by the Samsung Guide Dog School. In return, the Samsung school has donated one male and one female Labrador Retriever to the USA to be raised and evaluated as potential breeding stock or as guides for the blind.
Commenting on the exchange programme, John Kim, Senior Vice President, Samsung Office of International Relations, explains: "These dogs will be a valuable asset to the Asian Guide Dog Breeding Network and to the strong growth of guide dogs in Korea. It is an example of how a common, vested interest in supporting the visually impaired can bring guide dog schools from all over the world together in the best possible way."
The two dogs travelled with Roselle, the guide dog who helped her owner Michael Hingson escape from the World Trade Centre in New York City during the 9/11 attack. As a result, Roselle has received international acclaim for enhancing awareness about the value of guide dogs to safe mobility and independence for people who are blind. Roselle will return home to the US with her partner after her trip to Korea.
The Guide Dogs for the Blind USA and the Samsung Guide Dog School entered into a "Sister School’ relationship in 2002. Guide Dogs for the Blind USA CEO Bob Phillips, accompanied the others on this visit to underscore the importance of international collaboration in providing services to the visually impaired.