General Overview


Empowering people who are blind or visually impaired with lifelong skills for independent travel through quality Leader Dogs, highly effective client instruction and innovative services.


Leader Dogs for the Blind conducts 12 sessions per year of the 25-day, live-in guide dog program, with a maximum of 24 clients in each session. The organization strives to meet the individual needs of its diverse clientele with accommodations such as a Spanish-speaking instructor, late evening diabetic snacks and one of only two existing programs for individuals who are both deaf and blind.


Leader Dog operates entirely on donated funds. No government or United Way funding is received. The continued success of the Leader Dog program depends on the generosity of contributors and community funding sources around the world. Donations are raised through a variety of means. Several signature events, an annual giving program, planned gifts and Lions Club support are the primary means of raising money for Leader Dogs for the Blind.


Leader Dog was founded in 1939 by three members of a Detroit-area Lions Club who were unable to obtain a guide dog for a friend from any other source. The trio led the purchase of an old farmhouse in Rochester Hills, Michigan to house the training facilities. Since then, the school has raised, trained and graduated more than 14,500 Leader Dogs.


Private, nonprofit agency that is a major project of the service organization Lions Clubs International.