Monday, December 26, 2011

Meet the Blind Dog Rescue Alliance

By Langley Cornwell

Established in August of 2009, the Blind Dog Rescue Alliance – started by Karen and Eric Belfi – is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit group that spans the United States and Canada. Run entirely by volunteers, the organization’s mission is to aid blind and visually impaired dogs. Their work includes rescuing blind dogs from shelters, assisting blind dog owners, and educating the public about these wonderful canines and the joy of caring for one.

The Belfi’s interest in visually impaired dogs began when they were searching for a companion for their Siberian husky. As they combed the Internet for an available orphan, the dog that captured their hearts was blind (appropriately named Ray Charles). As a responsible pet owner, Karen Belfi located an online discussion group dedicated to blind dog care and advocacy; she wanted to learn about a visually impaired dog’s special requirements. The group assured Karen that a blind dog’s needs aren’t much different than the needs of a ‘regular dog,’ so a match was made.    

Karen and Eric remained active in the Internet discussion forum. They watched as the list of visually compromised adoptable dogs increased. Sadly, the list grew so large that otherwise healthy dogs were not finding homes in time, and were being euthanized. Unable to stand by and watch this trend, they joined forces with a few others in the discussion group and formed the Blind Dog Rescue Alliance.  

I was first made aware of this fine organization through my own online involvement with animal advocacy. When I was a kid our neighbors had a blind dog named Spooky (she was born on Halloween). When Spooky had puppies, I got the pick of her litter as a birthday present. I chose her runt, and that’s when my lifelong love affair with animals began – so Spooky holds a special place in my heart. I was amazed to watch sightless Spooky navigate the neighborhood. We lived on a dead-end street and there were no leash laws at the time, so she could come and go as she pleased. If you weren’t told, you might not notice that Spooky couldn’t see. She was one cool dog, as was her puppy. When I heard of the Blind Dog Rescue Alliance, the organization caught my interest immediately. I wanted to know more.

In the two years since the organization was established, they have expanded through the United States and Canada. Most of the volunteers offer foster homes for the dogs until they can be placed in forever homes. So far, the Blind Dog Rescue Alliance has saved 175 blind or vision impaired dogs, many of which had to be transported long distances to safety. The group attributes most of their growth and success to a strong Internet presence. You can follow them via their Facebook page and Twitter.

The Blind Dog Rescue Alliance website is packed with helpful information including blind dog tips, stories and videos from blind dog owners, and an overview of common eye disorders. There’s also a list of adoptable dogs seeking good homes. The rescue group is always looking for volunteers, donations, and help with transporting rescued dogs, so visit the website if you’re so inclined. All donations are tax deductible and go towards the care of their foster animals.

Ever helpful, I asked president Karen Belfi what has been their greatest accomplishment to date. She said: “I think just forming the rescue and growing it to the size we did is a huge accomplishment. We started with around 20 people pulling one dog. Now we have over 150 volunteers and nearly 200 dogs saved.” That’s quite an accomplishment indeed.

Read more articles by Langley Cornwell


  1. Hope you had a totally awesome Christmas!!
    Maggie May and The Creek Cats

  2. That sure sounds like a wonderful organization. What a good thing to do. The vets that I go to have a blind cat wandering around the office and he is the neatest thing. All you have to do is make a noise and he comes up to you for some patting. But is was really neat. He belongs to one of the vets that own the clinic. But great post. It was very interesting. I am doing a post tomorrow that you will love.

  3. We adopted a blind dog and her sister (who can see) from Hopes Haven in Salem, Oregon. I wouldn't give her up for the world, she is the best and the smartest of our "small pack" of doggies! If you want TRUE unconditional love adopt a blind dog, she goes places her sisters won't go like up stairs, in the scary basement, outside in her FENCED back yard! Nothing deters her and blindness should NEVER deter anyone from adopting!

  4. An odd bit of synchronicity -- I just wrote about blind Lily and her awesome seeing-eye-dog-pal Maddison!
    So thanks to this organization here in USA, maybe things are better here than in Britain? This news is great to hear. Thank you! Cheers me right up.

  5. My dog is a rescue from The Bahamas - among many other problems he is blind, but that has not slowed him down one bit. He is loving and playful and despite having experienced some mishaps (falling into the pool, stepping on the cat - actually I'm not totally convinced this is not planned on his part) he is quite independent. He can find pretty much everything in the house and loves to greet new people and animals when we are walking. I have learned to talk to him constantly when we are walking as it reassures him and makes the journey much less stressful for him. He is an older dog now and when his time comes, I am confident that I will be happy to adopt another blind dog - I have been well trained by now!

  6. Hello there: My blind dog sometimes falls when he tries to jump up onto the sofa. We bought a stool but he insists on jumping up, so we have ordered him a neoprene life-vest to pad him if he falls. What I'm wondering is if you would mind me using the adorable graphic you have at the top of this blog to put on his new vest when it comes...

    Thank you,



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