Canine Development Center Project - FAQs

Kennel Redesign Project: Creating the Canine Development Center

How were the cost and scale of the project determined?

In February 2012, Leader Dogs for the Blind retained Animal Arts and Fusco Schafer Pappas (FSP) to do an assessment of the existing kennel facility. The commission of this work grew out of a Kennel Renovation Task Force that initially started meeting in 2011. Following a thorough inspection and analysis, it was determined that while the kennel facility was structurally sound, the existing individual cages were too small and cramped and not configured in a way in keeping with the organization’s approach to caring for and training dogs. Additionally, Puppy Land, the veterinary clinic and breeding capacities and functions were significantly compromised by the existing building limitations.   

A comparative analysis of potential project costs based on different designs was conducted. Looking at the practicality of these scenarios and the effective return on investment, it was concluded that it was cost effective to move forward with the current conceptual master plan. This version of the project is true to the needs and goals of Leader Dog.  

Why did we choose to redesign rather than opt for new construction?

We still have a mission to serve clients during construction, and we need to have a place to house all our dogs and kennel services during any renovation/construction. The cost of new construction would have put the project out of reach. Much of the existing structure is viable and supports a redesign over new construction.

How much of the kennel will be redesigned?

Our kennel facility is 69,334 sq. ft. Of that space, 68% of it will be renovated, 20% will be demolished and rebuilt and 12% will remain as it is.

Are you going to serve more clients?

The Canine Development Center will support current needs as well as provide the ability to house more dogs through cohabitation. Cohabitation will allow us to increase the capacity of dogs in training and positions us to serve more clients in the future.

What will happen with the dogs during construction?

The redesign will occur in phases over a period of 18–22 months. During each phase, dogs will be housed in areas of the Canine Development Center not under construction. The first phase will start in August 2014.

Impact

How will this project impact the mission of Leader Dog for the Blind?

This project is about creating the best possible environment to breed, train and care for Leader Dogs in training and better serve our clients. We know that the kennel environment has an important impact on every stage of a Leader Dog’s development. Every aspect of the Canine Development Center will have an impact on the health, well-being and training of Leader Dogs, ensuring that we are developing the highest quality dogs for our clients.

Our kennel facility was built several decades ago when the needs of our clients, our training methods and standards in veterinary care were vastly different. The Canine Development Center will bring our facility up to date for the 21st century.

What impact will the redesign have on success rates?

Our veterinarians and other specialists know that the environment plays an important role in the socialization, training and development of our dogs. We know that the Canine Development Center will help us develop the highest quality dogs possible and consequently better serve our clients.

We should emphasize that by holding to our strict standards, not all dogs will graduate from our training program, regardless of the facility. Leader Dogs are entrusted with immense responsibility. They are the eyes of their human companions and must safely guide them across busy streets and through crowded public spaces. Our dogs are like the Navy Seals of service dogs; our graduation rate will never be 100% and, quite honestly, that is not our goal. Instead, our goal is to develop the highest quality dogs for our clients.

What impact will this project have on Leader Dog’s bottom line?

The Canine Development Center will greatly improve the layout and efficiency of our kennel. This will allow our staff (the most significant line item on our budget) and our 340+ on-site volunteers to work more effectively and efficiently. Additionally, the energy savings gained by upgrading the central operating systems (water, heating and electric) will offset the cost of installing much needed air conditioning to 80% of the facility that currently doesn’t have it.

The Campaign

What is the campaign for Leader Dog?

The campaign is a way to raise funds to make our vision for the future a reality. Investing in a comprehensive facility redesign to create spaces that support our work, from breeding to training, and help develop the highest quality Leader Dogs for our clients is a major part of our strategic plan.

The generous pledges and contributions of individuals, corporations, foundations and Lions will have a deep and lasting impact on the clients we serve and the Leader Dogs on which they depend. With the help of our supporters, we anticipate beginning work on this exciting project without the need for financing.

Will the Leader Dogs for the Blind Foundation make a gift to the campaign?

Yes, in 2014, the foundation will make a seven figure leadership gift to the campaign.

When will the campaign start?

The campaign planning started in August 2013, will continue throughout 2014 (our 75th anniversary year), and conclude in the fall of 2015. This is a standard timeframe for a campaign of this size.

What if you raise more money than you need for the project?

Progress to campaign goal will be constantly monitored. As we approach achieving our goal, donors will be contacted to ensure donor intent is maintained.