The 14th annual Pet Valu Walk for Dog Guides is set to take place Sept. 25 at Tudhope Park.
Laura Joyce and her dog guide, Norma Jean, have been staples of the event for nearly a decade.
“These fundraisers are why the Lions Foundation of Canada is able to match people free of charge with a guide dog,” Joyce said. “These dogs provide an improvement in people’s lives.”
Joyce says dog guides can give people peace of mind, a sense of independence, and other lifesaving abilities.
The event raises between $5,000 and $7,000 each year.
“I’m hoping we can get to at least $10,000,” Joyce said. “Between $7,000 and $10,000 would be great.”
The money is put toward seven dog-training programs that can help people with autism, those who are blind or visually impaired, hearing impaired, in wheelchairs, diabetic, have seizures, and who need emotional support while dealing with trauma.
“Without the help of these dogs, we wouldn’t have the independence that everyone wants,” Joyce said. “These dogs are so important because they give us a quality life.”
Maybe more important than the financial aspect of the fundraiser, Joyce says, the event spreads awareness.
“They will get to see how service dogs work,” she said. “It also shows the Orillia community how we need to help those who need these dogs.”
Joyce says during the pandemic, dog guide training courses were put on hold. “Now more than ever,” there is a huge demand for dog guides.
“The more money we can raise, the more dogs we can get ... trained,” she said.
Registration for the walk will begin at 10 a.m. and the walk will start at 11 a.m. There is no cost to register, and pre-registration can be completed here.