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The economic costs and benefits of dog guides for the blind

PURPOSE: To document the economic costs and benefits associated with providing dog guide services for blind individuals able to benefit from them. METHODS: This study estimates the annual cost of dog guide services accounting for cost offsets associated with reduced informal and formal care costs over the working life of the animal (8 years). We estimated the cost per dog guide trained using previously unpublished survey data from dog guide training schools in the United States. We also estimated the incremental economic benefits as the reduction in costs associated with formal and informal care using published studies and a set of reasonable assumptions. Costs were discounted to 2006$ using a 3% discount rate. RESULTS: We found the average total cost per dog guide over its working life was $40,598, of which $21,568 were off-set by reductions in other costs. The costs associated with dog guides included $35,536 in dog acquisition costs and $5,061 for annual maintenance over the animal's working life. The economic benefits included $16,324 and $5,244 in reduced formal and informal care costs, respectively. The average net cost of dog guide ownership per year over the working life of the animal was $2,379. CONCLUSIONS: Using available information and reasonable assumptions, this study documents the costs of dog guides accounting for a limited number of cost off-setting elements. However, given limited available evidence, further study of the impact of guide dogs on the lives of blind individuals who use them should be conducted to validate this study's results


Wirth, K., & Rein, D. (2008). The economic costs and benefits of dog guides for the blind. Ophthalmic Epidemiology, 15(2), 92-98. https://doi.org/10.1080/09286580801939353

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