International Collaboration to Benefit Service Dog Users

Service dogs and their partners all over the world are set to benefit from an exciting new collaboration announced between the two leading organizations for setting standards and accrediting service and guide dog training programs. 
Assistance Dogs International* (ADI) and the International Guide Dog Federation* (IGDF) have signed a Memorandum of Cooperation which will see them collaborate to improve the lives of people with disabilities including visual impairment. Between them, IGDF and ADI represent more than 250 service and guide dog programs with more than 36,000 active teams in more than 40 countries. 
“As CEO for a founding member of ADI, this formal joint venture with IGDF is a rallying call for accredited service dog organizations,” says Canine Companions CEO Paige Mazzoni. “Together, we can have a unified voice on issues that impact all of our clients, regardless of the type of service dog with which they are paired.” 
The Memorandum recognizes that IGDF is the expert in the field of guide dogs, while ADI is the expert in the field of all other types of service dogs. Both organizations will work together on areas including sharing data; access, advocacy and public policy; events and conferences; working groups; and communications. They will also work to make their accreditation processes as similar as possible to help those training programs that are members of both ADI and IGDF. 
“Together, ADI and IGDF are committed to setting the highest possible standards and providing the best possible experience for both the dogs and their partners,” said Chris Diefenthaler, Executive Director of ADI. “By entering into a formal cooperative alliance with IGDF, we will ensure that the accreditation and standards of both organizations provide high-quality certified assistance dogs.” 
“This formal collaboration marks a major step forward in our relationship which will hugely benefit our member programs and guide dog users,” said Bill Thornton, Chair of the IGDF Board of Directors. “I’m excited that both organizations will be working even more closely together to benefit tens of thousands of guide dog and assistance dog users all over the world.” 
In an example of closer cooperation, ADI and IGDF will pool data from their annual census of programs to create a joint report on the number and type of service and guide dogs and their users in any given year. This data will then be used to raise awareness among international organizations, government agencies and the private sector of the need for better understanding of the service dog industry and the needs of service and guide dog users. 
“Both ADI and IDGF share the same ultimate goal – to improve the lives of those people with disabilities by providing them with highly-trained assistance dogs,” said Diefenthaler. “Closer cooperation ensures we will work together to pursue access, advocacy, and public policy in the best interests of our collective clients.” 
Canine Companions is the largest provider of service dogs in the U.S., with six training centers located in Northern California, Southern California, Texas, Florida, New York and Ohio. Founded in 1975, Canine Companions has placed more than 7,500 service dogs with clients, free of charge. Canine Companions is a founding member of Assistance Dogs International and was one of the first organizations to be accredited by the program. They are known worldwide for the quality of their dogs and the longevity of their partnerships.
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