Last updated: 1st April 2020

Q. I was due to come on class for a Guide Dog/Assistance Dog. What is happening?
As outlined above in the “What we have done/are doing” section, we have cancelled residential classes while the current restrictions remain in place. We are looking at each Client on a case-by-case basis to see if we can deliver training in a safe manner from a distance or in other ways. We will be in touch with you to discuss options, however, in the meantime if you have any questions please contact the Instructor due to run the class or Mel Conway, HR/Client Services Manager on 085 800 9227 or via email at melconway@guidedogs.ie.

Q. I was matched with a dog and due to come on class before classes were cancelled. Does this mean that I won’t be getting the dog I was matched with?
No. It just means there will be a delay in training you and your new partner.

Q. Were dogs which were at HQ for training homed as a result of the restrictions?
All our training dogs are boarding with temporary boarder homes or members of our training staff. In cases where they are residing with a Volunteer, they are supported by the individual trainers responsible for these dogs.

We are currently putting together videos of the dogs in their temporary homes to reassure Puppy Raisers that their dogs are doing well and are enjoying their break from formal training.

We have a skeleton Dog Care team onsite each day to care for dogs which for one reason or another get returned from their current temporary homes.

Q. I am a Guide Dog Owner and my dog is having behaviour issues. Is there someone who can give me advice? Can I get aftercare support?
Yes. Our Instructors are here as normal to give you advice and aftercare support. To access this support, please contact our Centre at 021 487 8200 or email a member of the Client Services team on clientservicesteam@guidedogs.ie. If outside of normal business hours, please contact Eoin Slattery, Technical Training Manager on 086 382 5035 or eoin@guidedogs.ie and he will either deal with your query or arrange for an Instructor to contact you.

Q. I am an Assistance Dog Owner and the change in routine is having an adverse effect on my child who has autism. Is there someone who can give me advice? Can I get aftercare support?
Yes. Our Instructors are here as normal to give you advice and aftercare support. To access this support, please contact our Centre at 021 487 8200 or email a member of the Client Services team on clientservicesteam@guidedogs.ie. If outside of normal business hours, please contact Mel Conway, HR/Client Services Manager on 085 800 9227 or melconway@guidedogs.ie or Eoin Slattery, Technical Training Manager on 086 382 5035 or eoin@guidedogs.ie and he will either deal with your query or arrange for an Instructor to contact you.

Q. Can I catch COVID-19 from my Guide/Assistance Dog or from a family pet?
The spread of COVID-19 is a result of human to human transmission. To date, there is no evidence that companion animals or dogs play a role in the spread of this or that they can themselves become infected or unwell with this strain of Coronavirus.

We have taken guidance and have been advised that whilst it would be possible for a dog to harbour the virus on its coat, it would be very unlikely that this would pose a transmission risk.

However, we advise that you minimise the contact your dog has with other people and follow best practice HSE guidelines in terms of social distancing and hand-washing.

Q. What happens with my dog if I have to self-isolate?
If you need to self-isolate and need someone to temporary board or free run your dog, please contact the Client Services team via email at clientservicesteam@guidedogs.ie. If outside of normal working hours, Mel Conway, HR/Client Services Manager on 085 800 9227 or via email at melconway@guidedogs.ie. He will make arrangements for this to happen.

Q. What are the guidelines around exercise?
If you are well, with no symptoms, we recommend that you exercise your dog as normal, but keep two metres away from other people wherever possible.

Q. I’m over 70 or have a serious health condition. Can I still go out to exercise my dog?
Please refer to the government’s protocols related to “cocooning” which asks that those over 70 years or those extremely medically vulnerable should not leave their homes. At most, you are advised to only go out to your garden for fresh air or exercise but not to interact with anyone. Please remember that we are here to help to ensure that your dog is exercised if you cannot go out or if you feel uncomfortable going out in public at the moment. To avail of this support, please contact the Client Services team via email at clientservicesteam@guidedogs.ie. If outside of normal working hours, Mel Conway, HR/Client Services Manager on 085 800 9227 or via email at melconway@guidedogs.ie.

Q. A Volunteer usually comes to exercise my dog. What should I do?
Please follow guidelines set out in “Protocols for support in our Community given COVID-19 (Coronavirus) restrictions”.

Q. What will happen if my usual free running Volunteer is taken ill?
If this happens, please contact the Client Services team via email at clientservicesteam@guidedogs.ie. If outside of normal working hours, Mel Conway, HR/Client Services Manager on 085 800 9227 or via email at melconway@guidedogs.ie and we will seek to find you another Volunteer.

Q. I want to volunteer to free run or temporary board dogs for Clients, Puppy Raisers or Broodbitch holders. How do I sign up?
To volunteer, you can do so here.

Alternatively, if you wish to volunteer as a free runner please contact Anne Linehan, Client Services Administrator, via email at alinehan@guidedogs.ie.

To volunteer as a temporary boarder please contact Caroline Sexton, Rehoming/Temp Boarding Officer via telephone at 087 965 2362 or via email at carolinesexton@guidedogs.ie.

To volunteer as a Puppy Raiser, please contact Erin McDonald, Shared Services Supervisor / Supervisor of Puppy Raising Team – 087 994 5115 or erin@guidedogs.ie.

Q. The puppy I am raising is over 13 months old. When will he/she be coming in for training?
As we have temporarily reduced placement of dogs on the Guide Dog and Assistance Dog Programmes due to the current situation, we are not in a position to bring in pups for the next while. We will review this on an ongoing basis.

The Technical team have reviewed the age profile of dogs in our Puppy Raising Programme and assure us that pups should be fine to remain with Puppy Raisers for a number of months longer (even up to 17 months of age) without an adverse effect on their training to be a Guide Dog or Assistance Dog. That said, if you have any concerns about developments in your dog’s behaviour or socialisation, please contact your assigned Puppy Raising Supervisor for support. Once restrictions are lifted, we are confident that based on Training Capacity we will quickly get these dogs in for training for the important careers that they are intended for. If you have any questions related to your dog’s future career please contact your Puppy Raising Supervisor or Eoin Slattery, Technical Training Manager on 086 382 5035 or eoin@guidedogs.ie.

Q. I am a Broodbitch holder. My Broodbitch is due to whelp. Can I get support? If so, from who?
Yes. If you need support, please contact a member of the Dog Care team. To contact a member of our Dog Care team, please call 021 4878240 / 085 859 7114 from 8.00am to 8.00pm or Maeve McCluskey, Supervisor on 085 874 4718 or mmccluskey@guidedogs.ie or Carole McCarthy, Supervisor on 085 859 7117 or carolemccarthy@guidedogs.ie from 8.00pm to 8.00am / outside of daytime hours.

Q. I am a Puppy Raiser. Given restrictions due to COVID-19, I cannot socialise or train my puppy in the usual places (e.g. shops, café’s, shopping centres, etc.). Is there a revised socialisation and training plan? Where should I go to socialise and train my puppy?
We are currently working on a revised socialisation and training plan which considers restrictions. We will communicate this to all Puppy Raisers as soon as it is completed. We will load video guidance and training tips online to support you to continue the training journey for your dog.

Q. I am a Puppy Raiser. I am training a puppy at the moment but don’t feel comfortable keeping him/her due to a medical condition I/my family have. Can somebody else take him/her?
Yes. Please contact your Puppy Raising Supervisor or Erin McDonald, Shared Services Supervisor/Supervisor of Puppy Raising Team on 087 994 5115 or via email erin@guidedogs.ie and she will advise and arrange alternative boarding for your puppy if necessary.

Q. I am a Puppy Raiser/Broodbitch holder. I/A member of my family have/has been confirmed as having COVID-19 (Coronavirus). What should I do with the puppy/dog?
Please contact your Puppy Raising Supervisor or Erin McDonald, Shared Services Supervisor/Supervisor of Puppy Raising Team on 087 994 5115 or via email erin@guidedogs.ie and she will advise and arrange alternative boarding for your puppy if necessary.