Work needed to open eyes to guide dogs

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, April 26, 2012
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Wednesday's International Guide Dog Day, an occasion marked around the world to honor Guide dogs' roles in helping blind and visually impaired people, passed by largely unnoticed in China.

Guide dog usage is low almost to the point of non-existence here, but various organizations are trying to bring these animals into wider availability.

In May, 2006, the China Disabled Person's Federation authorized Dalian Disabled Person's Federation and Dalian Medical University to build up China's first guide dog training base, in the city of Dalian in northeast China's Liaoning Province.

Surveys by the base showed that 16 million Chinese suffer from blindness and visual impairments, so there are many potential users of guide dogs.

But there are few guide dog organizations in the country and only four to five guide dogs can be offered annually. Meanwhile, more than 50,000 people apply for one of the highly trained canines every year.

Since the establishment of the training base in 2006, 28 guide dogs have been trained and made available to people with visual impairments.

The base is now training 68 more dogs, but it's still far from the demand, admits Wang Jingyu, director of the Guide Dog Training Base of China.

Statistics released in 2008 show the United State has 10,000 guide dogs, Britain has 4,000 and Germany 1,100.

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