Thirty-one people in Mayo are benefitting from the support of a guide dog, according the Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind.
The Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind released the figures to promote national Guide Dog Day, which takes place across Ireland today (Friday May 1 ).
One Mayo guide dog user, Tomas Langan from Castlebar, and his dog Usha, met with the charity’s famous patron Roy Keane at the Irish Guide Dogs headquarters for the official launch of Guide Dog Day.
Mr Keane said that growing up in Cork, his family always had dogs and he himself has experienced the positive benefits dogs can bring to a person’s life.
“I always found spending time with my dogs a great way of relaxing,” said the former Irish international soccer star.
“I have two dogs at the moment, a German shepherd and a Labrador and they are a massive part of my family. I’d be lost without them.”
In Mayo, 27 people use the Irish Guide Dogs vision impairment serices and four people have an assistance dog.
Mr Keane and Mr Langan urged the public to support Guide Dog Day by texting WOOF to 50300 to donate €4.
The funds raised will support the work of the Irish Guide Dogs.
Mr Keane said he has seen firsthand the huge difference the Irish Guide Dogs are making in the everyday lives of the people who use their services.
“I always enjoy talking to the people who have and need the dogs and finding out how much the dog means to them; without the dogs they wouldn’t get out and about. It is amazing; absolutely amazing,” said Mr Keane.
Irish Guide Dogs is 80 per cent funded by voluntary income and donations so it relies hugely on the public’s support to fund its services.
It costs €38,000 to train a puppy to become a working guide or assistance dog, said the Irish Guide Dogs.