Founded April 4, 1939, in Rochester Hills, Mich., Leader Dogs for the Blind helps provide people who are blind or visually impaired with lifelong skills for safe and independent daily travel. The organization is dedicated to providing high-quality services to its clients in a respectful and empowering environment.
In 1939, rent for a farmhouse for clients and staff, a barn for dogs and a garage was $50 per month. The cost to graduate a client and dog team was $600. During Dec. 3-9, 1950, Michigan celebrated its first Leader Dog week as proclaimed by Gov. G. Mennen Williams. In 1958, the organization stopped charging clients to train with a Leader Dog, providing an opportunity for everyone in need regardless of their ability to pay.
The decision to provide all services free of charge to clients, including housing, meals and equipment, continues thanks to generous support from Lions Clubs International that has continued to support the organization and its clients financially, providing assistance to thousands of people. About 450 dogs now are trained and matched with owners annually.
In 2015, continued success and growth in the organization necessitated more space, and a facility addition was constructed with help from Wm. Molnar Roofing Co. Inc., Riverview, Mich.