Leader Dogs for the Blind edges toward fundraising goal
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Leader Dogs for the Blind edges toward fundraising
By Linda Shepard
The new Leader Dogs for the Blind canine development center, on Rochester Road, at Avon, is almost
complete. (Photo by Linda Shepard )
Posted April 6, 2016
ROCHESTER HILLS — The new canine
development center at Leader Dogs for the
Blind is within sight of its fundraising goal
of $14.5 million.
“We are doing a big philanthropic push”
for the last $312,000, said Melissa Weisse,
Leader Dogs’ chief philanthropy officer.
“We invite people to (help) get to the finish
line on this.”
Since 1939, Leader Dogs has been
empowering people who are blind or
visually impaired with services that
provide lifelong skills for independent
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The close-to-completion new kennel building features covered outdoor yards and
additional training areas with spacious and open housing villages in place of cramped
kennels — giving the dogs human interaction, mental stimulation and room for exercise.
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Additional plans for the kennel include a puppy viewing area and a 3-D tactile map created
by Oakland University engineering students, said Rachelle Kniffen, Leader Dogs director
of communications and marketing.
“It is a display on visual impairment in the lobby area,” Kniffen said. “A touch map for
clients. We should have it in the next few weeks. It will tell you where the feeding rooms
and puppy pens are. It is great for clients and our volunteers.”
Blindfolds will enable visitors to experience the tactile map as a Leader Dogs client.
A Leader Dogs gift shop, currently tucked away in the main building basement, will move
soon to the canine development center. The shop will offer T-shirts, clothing and dog toys,
along with travel dog bowls and more, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays beginning
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An open house is planned for September, when the canine development center will
welcome all members of the community “to celebrate the building,” Weisse said. “There is
so much excitement about the new building.”
Leader Dogs is also planning a 1-10 p.m. June 4 Bark and Brew event at the Rochester
Mills Beer Co. The community and family event will feature live music and beer for adults,
a meet-and-greet with future Leader Dogs and information about the Leader Dogs
organization. Children will enjoy inflatables, carnival games, face painting and more.
“It will be a really nice way to celebrate Leader Dogs,” Kniffen said.
Both events are designed to create community awareness for Leader Dogs, which depends
on volunteers for puppy raising, breeding hosts and more.
Weisse said fundraising is ever ongoing. The nonprofit organization operates entirely on
donations from individuals, community service groups, corporations and foundations, and
receives no state or federal funding.
“We are still raising funds for all things above and beyond the canine center,” Weisse said.
“A large portion of our support is local,” Kniffen said.
For more information on Leader Dogs for the Blind, call (888) 777-5332 or visit
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Staff Writer Linda Shepard covers Rochester Hills and Oakland Township
for the Rochester Post. Shepard has worked for C & G Newspapers since
1998, graduated from Oakland University and is a past winner of the
Michigan Press Association award. Shepard takes an avid interest in
Detroit’s history and current rebirth.
Full bio and more articles by this reporter
For more local news coverage, see the following newspaper:
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