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Bay Area Families Seek Ex-Guide Dog Trainees For Adoption

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Owner Doug Laughlin seen with Jammer, a "Career Change" dog. (CBS)

Owner Doug Laughlin seen with Jammer, a “Career Change” dog. (CBS)

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SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — They did not pass the rigorous training to become guide dogs. But they are some of the most-sought after dogs for adoption by Bay Area families.

Approximately 130 dogs annually fail to make the extremely high standards of Guide Dogs for the Blind in California. Those who don’t make the grade are released from the program and put up for adoption. They are sometimes known as “career change” dogs.

The dogs are so popular that waiting lists have as many as 1,500 applicants who are willing to pay $750 fee to adopt one.

Doug Laughlin adopted Jammer, a dog who never made it through the guide dog school training. Laughlin and his family said they are happy with Jammer.

“If it makes families like me happy with career change dogs, they’re doing a lot of good for everybody,” he said.

“She’s smart, focused. She’s obedient. But for a lot of other reasons, she will never be a guide dog,” Puppy Program Specialist Sharon Kret said about Jammer.

Most of the dogs are Labrador retrievers and golden retrievers between one and two-years-old. Although they are not qualified as service animals to assist the visually impaired, they make good pets because they have had thorough veterinary care, obedience and housetraining.

Some of the dogs may even go on to work in specialized areas such as search and rescue, cancer detection and pet therapy, or they become hearing service dogs.

Adopters are selected carefully based on suitability. This process requires inspection of the adopters’ home and yard as well as the family’s ability to work with the dog’s special medical or behavioral needs.

Anyone interested in adopting a career change dog can visit to the Guide Dogs for the Blind website to fill out an application form. Applicants could stay on the waitlist for up to two years for qualification.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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