Of the approximately 27,000 registered blind Israelis, only about 250 own a guide dog. The Israel Guide Dog Center for the Blind is working to change that.
Founded in 1991 near Moshav Beit Oved, the center is only accredited guide dog training school in Israel, and it remains the only option for Israelis who need a guide dog that can respond to Hebrew commands, according to the Times Of Israel.
For many years, their only option was to travel to the United States, where they would need to pass an English exam before receiving a guide dog.
About 1 percent of blind Israelis own a guide dog, on the lower end of the scale for global ownership. The center’s primary function is to train the dogs, but they also must combat “a lack of awareness for the need in the country and a shortage of funding for the expensive facilities and training.”
Though the obstacles are many — training dogs to navigate an Israeli sidewalk presents an especially difficult challenge, according to the center’s founder — the spirit and enthusiasm of the volunteer-run center should make their project a walk in the park.