A new generation of Guide and Assistance Dogs will emerge from a breeding programme supported by Lions Clubs in Ireland.

The selective breeding programme pioneered by Irish Guide Dogs is designed to breed Guide and Assistance Dogs who will better support and interact with their owners, thereby enhancing their quality of life.

This large-scale project has been supported by Lions Clubs in Ireland to mark the Centenary of Lions Clubs International. Clubs throughout Ireland have raised over €130,000 for the project with the latest contribution presented to Irish Guide Dogs on Saturday 14th July by Frank O’Donoghue, District Governor, Lions Clubs of Ireland.

Pictured at the presentation of a cheque from Lions Clubs to Irish Guide Dogs are (from left) Frank O’Donoghue, District Governor, Lions Clubs Ireland, Teresa Dineen, Past District Governor, John Burke, Irish Guide Dogs Corporate Partnerships Manager, Tim Culhane with his Guide Dog Ulrika and Paul Allen, Past District Governor, Lions Clubs Ireland.

A proportion of the funds raised will be presented to the Guide Dogs Association of Northern Ireland.

Making the presentation, Frank O’Donoghue praised the work of Irish Guide Dogs

‘This three year appeal for funding to support the development of the breeding programme of Irish Guide Dogs was conceived as a fitting way to mark the Centenary of the founding of the Lions in 1917 in Chicago by Melvin Jones.

From an early stage in the development of the Lions Organisation –championing the blind has been one of our priority goals. This has its origin in the 1925 Lions convention, when guest speaker, Helen Keller- a pioneering champion of the blind – challenged the Lions to become ‘Knights of the Blind’.

This is a cause that the Lions have fully embraced both in the United States and internationally. Lions worldwide made Sight and Vision a major priority and this will continue in the second century of our Organisation’, he said.

Lions Clubs project leader Pat McCoole thanked Lions Clubs throughout the country for their support. ‘The funding was raised at local level by Lions Clubs who responded magnificently to the project’, he said. ‘We thank each club and every Lion who participated and also members of the public who contributed to the many fund-raising activities.’ “

John Burke, Corporate Partnerships Manager, Irish Guide Dogs commented; ‘We cannot thank  the Irish Lions Clubs enough for their generous support over the last number of years. This partnership is so special and has really enabled us to continue to deliver vital services for free throughout Ireland. The focus and time invested in our Breeding Regeneration Programme coupled with our passion for clients and the collective dedication of our clients, staff, volunteers and supporters enables us to deliver on our plans to train and support the maximum number of clients in the years ahead.