Sean Dilley’s story of his last walk with his guide dog Sammy in September 2022 has had a remarkable impact on the charity Guide Dogs. Following the BBC coverage, applications to volunteer have skyrocketed, with more than 4,500 people coming forward.
Before the pandemic, there were around 5,000 guide dog partnerships in the UK. Now, that number has dropped to 3,695, with more than one in five people who had a guide dog before the pandemic now not having one.
The BBC has been following the stories of puppy raisers, fosterers and guide dog users to gain a better understanding of what needs to be done to address Britain’s guide dog shortage. The documentary, which was filmed by Gem O’Reilly and Sean Dilley, has highlighted the need for more volunteers and resources to ensure that those who need a guide dog can get one.
The charity Guide Dogs is now working hard to recruit more volunteers and provide additional support to those who are already involved in the scheme. They are also looking into ways to increase the number of puppies in training and are exploring new ways to fund the scheme.
The charity is also working with the government to ensure that guide dogs are given the same rights as other assistance animals. This includes access to public transport and other public places, as well as protection from discrimination.
It is clear that there is still a lot of work to be done to ensure that everyone who needs a guide dog can get one. But thanks to Sean Dilley’s story, more people are now aware of the issue and are taking action to help. With the right support and resources, Britain’s guide dog shortage can be addressed and more people can benefit from the life-changing support that a guide dog can provide.