On this page

The Petbarn Foundation has launched Vision Australia’s largest annual fundraising appeal with the aim to raise over $1 million to fund 20 Seeing Eye Dogs. The Appeal provides vital support to Australians who are blind or have low vision, opening up a world of independence so they can live the life they choose.

There are an estimated 450,000 Australians who are blind or who have low vision and approximately 12,500 additional people experience vision loss each year. This number is expected to increase by 25 per cent by 2030, meaning the need for more Seeing Eye Dogs has never been more important.

The Petbarn Foundation Seeing Eye Dogs Appeal aims to not only raise vital funds to ‘Train up a Pup’, but also create awareness on what it means to live with low vision and the challenges Aussies with low vision face daily.

In Australia, 10 per cent of the people who have vision conditions are blind, while 90 per cent have low vision. And while the perception is that blindness and low vision mainly affects older people, 2.3 per cent of the Australian population aged 35-54 are blind or have low vision compared to those aged 55-64 which is 0.9 per cent.

To understand how low vision can present, people may experience tunnel vision, where their field of view is restricted to something akin to looking through a telescope. They can often be sensitive to bright lights and sunshine, experiencing a prolonged sensation similar to having a camera flash go off in your face and their eyes can take longer to adjust to changes in lighting. Vision Australia clients with low vision often rely on their Seeing Eye Dogs, especially at night.

Training these pups to the highest standard is vital.

It costs over $50,000 and takes up to two years to train one Seeing Eye Dog. Training begins from eight weeks of age, where puppies begin to learn basic socialisation skills from volunteer carers supported by puppy development trainers. At approximately 12 months of age, they progress for up to five months of expert one-on-one training with a specialised instructor, where they hone the skills needed for their important job.

From Monday 1st July, Australians are encouraged to ‘Train-up a Pup’ by donating at Petbarn stores or online to support the training and expertise needed to turn puppies in to highly skilled Seeing Eye Dogs.

Petbarn Foundation Manager, Janelle Bloxsom, says, “Seeing Eye Dogs are invaluable to people of all ages who are are legally blind, or who experience low vision. These conditions present a myriad of daily challenges for people living with the disability which can affect confidence, safety independence and quality of life. ”

“Our partnership with Vision Australia, enables us to continue to support and enrich the lives of blind and low vision Australians by funding Seeing Eye Dogs to provide companionship and independence.

“We couldn’t do it without the support of generous Aussies who continue to donate to the Appeal in a show of support for people in our community living with a disability. We’re hoping this year, we can once again reach our $1 million target with funds raised during the Appeal donated directly to Vision Australia.”

Vision Australia CEO Ron Hooton says, “The Petbarn Foundation Seeing Eye Dogs Appeal is the biggest annual fundraiser for Vision Australia Seeing Eye Dogs. The expert training required for these pups is specialised and intense and with more Australians experiencing vision loss each year, the need for Seeing Eye Dogs grows in importance year on year.”

“We’re aiming to have 400 Seeing Eye Dogs in Australia by 2024 and we look forward to continuing this partnership with the Petbarn Foundation for another 10 years and beyond. I’d also like to say thank you to all the Petbarn customers who have supported us over the past 11years, we really appreciate it – you're changing lives in so many ways.”

Sixty-three year old Nick Gleeson, who lost his eyesight at age 7 in an accident, can’t stress enough the profound relationship and partnership he has with his Seeing Eye Dog, Jarvis. “Jarvis has enabled me to achieve a lot of travel goals and to really find great satisfaction in life – those are the sort of things a Seeing Eye Dog can bring, that a cane cannot.”

“A Seeing Eye Dog could never be substituted,” Nick says. “It’s very hard to describe in words. It’s that partnership, that bonding that creates huge possibilities and enables me to do things I may not otherwise do. Jarvis provides a lot of support to me beyond the work he does in his harness.

“Petbarn understands the importance of giving back and what these amazing dogs do for the people who need them. They’re living examples of how they enable people with disabilities to achieve so much.”

Since 2014, the Petbarn Foundation Seeing Eye Dogs Appeal has raised $7.6 million for Vision Australia to help train 152 puppies for Australians who are blind or have low vision.

How to donate

Donations to the Petbarn Foundation Seeing Eye Dogs Appeal can be made at any Petbarn store, or online.

Petbarn Foundation Appeal