Eleven future guide dogs, which will assist visually impaired people, were named today during a ceremony at the Guide Dogs School in Sofia. The mayor of Sofia Jordanka Fandakova and Milan Zaletel, CFO of Mtel, handed over 11 Labrador Retrievers to their professional trainers, who in the course of the next year will train them to aid and support visually impaired people.
Prior to the official start of their actual guide dog training the puppies spent nearly 10 months in foster families, which helped them socialize and get used to the urban environment by following a specially designed training regime.
Once they successfully complete their training course, the certified guide dogs will be handed over to their new owners for the symbolic sum of 1.00 BGN. The price of one guide dog, imported from abroad, exceeds 25 000 Euros.
Mtel is the main sponsor of the “Eyes on Four Paws” foundation since 2003. The non-governmental organization’s mission is to rehabilitate and reintegrate visually impaired and physically disabled people with the help of guide dogs. The organization trains the guide dogs and gives them to people with disabilities. The new guide dog owners also receive training on how to work and live with their new assistants. Additionally, the foundation educates instructors and develops a network of foster families for the future guide dogs’ socialization.
Mtel has invested close to 500 000 BGN for the support and promotion of the “Eyes on Four Paws” foundation’s the mission in the Bulgarian society in the last 12 years. 54 guide dogs have been trained and given to their new owners as a result of Mtel’s financial help during this timespan.
In May 2015 Mtel’s long-term support of the Guide Dogs School was recognized with a first place award in the most competitive “Corporate CSR Project” category of the prestigious Bulgarian Public Relations Society Awards.