In Singapore, only one person uses a guide dog to get around. Mr Kua Cheng Hock was born blind and his desire to own a guide dog was introduced at a young age when he read about it in the 1970s. When studying to teach the blind in Melbourne, Mr Kua started using his first guide dog. Now in Singapore, he has Kendra – the only guide dog on these shores.
Mr Kua is one of the founding directors of a newly formed charity – the Guide Dogs Association of the Blind Ltd (GDAB). The GDAB aims to promote the use of guide dogs in Singapore and help the visually impaired undergo training in orientation and mobility so they are well prepared to travel independently with guide dogs before owning them.
A guide dog is a service animal trained to provide assistance to an individual with visual impairment. Although Singapore accepted the use of guide dogs in September 2005, it has remained a rare occurance. The law currently states that guide dogs are allowed to accompany their handlers anywhere open to the general public such as in restaurants, public transport vehicles and public areas. Please see the advisory to food operators and establishments for more information.
Guide dogs are able to direct the blind in crowded places and help them navigate faster and more efficiently. They are also trained to alert their handlers to oncoming obstacles including those overhead, and more importantly, they are trained in the concept of “intelligent disobedience”, and will disobey their owners in the event of potential danger.
As such, guide dogs are invaluable to the visually impaired and we can all do our part for these people by donating to the GDAB.
Kindly make cheque donations payable to “Guide Dogs Association of the Blind Ltd” and send it to Blk 123 Tampines Street 11, #10-382 Tampines Court S(521123) or visit www.guidedogs.org.sg.