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Valuing the Benefits and Costs of Guide Dogs for the Blind

The use of guide dogs—highly trained animals taught to lead the user in a straight line and maneuver around obstacles—can potentially mitigate many of the social and economic costs of blindness for those who are able to have them. Case studies and anecdotal evidence suggest guide dogs serve as companions, providing an emotional connection and building the confidence and self-esteem of blind recipient. This 2007 study estimated the costs of providing and maintaining guide dog services during the 8-year working life of the dog, considering the monetary value of savings from decreased use of formal and informal home assistance care services. The study estimated a total cost per guide dog during its working life of $40,598, of which $21,568 were off-set by reductions in other costs. The average net cost of guide dog ownership per year during the working life of the animal was $2,379.

Discounted Costs Associated with Guide Dogs Over an Estimated eight year Lifespan, in cumulative 2005 dollars

Table 2 - Guide dogs

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Wirth KE, Rein DB. The economic costs and benefits of dog guides for the blind. Ophthalmic Epidemiol 2008;15(2):92–98.