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Guide dogs make all the difference for the visually impaired

Occupaws provides guide dogs to people for free
Published: Apr. 28, 2021 at 8:37 AM CDT|Updated: Apr. 28, 2021 at 6:02 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - April 28th is International Guide Dog Day, a special day to honor all those hard-working pups out there that can change someone’s life for the better.

“That’s what it makes it all worthwhile – when you see them go to that person and change that person’s life,” said Cheryl Hartung, a volunteer with Occupaws Guide Dog Association.

Occupaws is an organization headquartered in Madison. They are one of 15 internationally accredited guide dog associations currently operating in the United States.

What sets Occupaws apart from other guide dog organizations is they provide the dog to visually impaired people completely free of charge.

“I think it’s safe to say these dogs make all the difference. They make the difference between being confined in your home or work, to being able to be out and about in the community and socializing and interacting with other people,” said Hartung. “The dogs are companionship. It’s a complete 180 for these people when they get a dog,”

Occupaws began back in 2005 and since then, they’ve provided hundreds of dogs to people in southern Wisconsin.

“There are certain traits we look for in the puppies themselves. I refer to it as ‘polite puppies’ no barking, no jumping, a relatively calm demeanor but also very curious,” said Hartung.

The organization will also come to your home to provide training for you and the dog as you both get acclimated to each other.

There is an application and interview process if you’d like to receive an Occupaws guide dog. Just check out their website at www.Occupaws.org

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