Puppies compete to promote annual Petbarn fundraiser

Three furry students at the Mobility Training Centre. Picture: Supplied
Three furry students at the Mobility Training Centre. Picture: Supplied

Petbarn McGraths Hill will serve as a collection point for donations to a company-wide fundraiser for Vision Australia Seeing Eye Dogs.

For the seventh successive year The Petbarn Foundation has chosen to support the group, which assists people who are blind or have low vision.

The appeal will run from now until August 2 and aims to raise more than $500,000 to help cover the costs of breeding, training and caring for at least 10 Seeing Eye Dogs.

In the six years it has been running, The Petbarn Foundation has raised $3.2 million for the cause, enabling 70 pups to be bred and trained.

"Seeing Eye Dogs do more than just allow Australians with vision loss to retain their independence and mobility - they provide companionship, alleviate the effects of social isolation and contribute to all-round better quality of life," said Petbarn McGraths Hill store manager Norman Hanely.

"Seeing Eye Dogs is just another example of how animals can enrich our lives. We encourage everyone to visit our Petbarn stores or donate online to help continue to provide these special assistance dogs to people in the community."

As part of this year's fundraiser, four puppies will go head-to-head for the inaugural Seeing Eye Dogs Puppy Games on July 23.

To launch the games, pet food brand Royal Canin will match each donation made from 12pm on game day, up to a total of $50,000.

For more information on the games visit thepuppygames.com.au

Each Seeing Eye Dog is trained for up to two years and costs more than $50,000 to produce.

They are taught basic socialisation skills and obedience while pups, and then, when mature, receive up to six months of expert training with a specialised instructor.

Vision Australia Seeing Eye Dogs general manager Graeme Craig said the Foundation's support was vital.

"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," he said. "For the right person, the highly trained dogs help them to move quicker and navigate obstacles with much more reliability and safety."

Donations can be made by visiting Petbarn McGraths Hill [Industry Road, Vineyard] or online at petbarn.com.au/seda