News and Updates

Fifty Years With Guide Dogs Presentation

Fifty Years of Guide Dog “stuff!”

Presentation recording with Sue Hardin

Yeah that is a lot of stuff! The happy stuff the sad stuff and the stressful stuff! Oh yeah and then there’re  is other “stuff!”


Sue Harden, a former teacher of the visually impaired and native of New York State, has worked with guide dogs for more than fifty years.  She has experienced both home and residential training, and her dogs have come from four different schools.  Sue has served as primary alumni contact for Guiding Eyes and for Freedom Guide Dogs.


Sue will share her perspective on guide dogs, answer questions from the audience  about training, handling, and how guide dog training has changed during her lifetime.  There will be time for questions from the audience.



Blind Americans Equality Day 2021


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                CONTACT: Maria Samuels, WCBNY President


Ann Chiappetta, GDUES President






White Plains, NY October 14, 2021, 12.30pm

Renaissance Plaza, 200 Main Street, by the fountain



White Plains, NY: The Westchester Council of the Blind of New York (WCBNY) advocacy organization will gather in downtown White Plains on Thursday, October 14 at 12:30 pm, to commemorate the Nationally observed Blind Americans Equality and White Cane Safety Day. Organizations and agencies supporting blindness will also be present, including the Guide Dog Users of the Empire State (GDUES) and Visions VCB. All members of the public are encouraged to attend!


According to the vision impairment fact sheet compiled by the Centers for Disease Control, vision disability is one of the top ten disabilities among adults 18 years and older and one of the most prevalent disabling conditions among children. Even though the white cane is the primary mobility tool of the blind and visually impaired, 1% of individuals who are blind choose to partner with a guide dog.


Blind Americans Equality Day, also known traditionally as White Cane Safety Day, was first proclaimed in 1964 by President Lyndon B. Johnson, was later renamed in 2011 by President Barack Obama, and is a national day of observance in the United States traditionally celebrated on October 15 of each year. The date is set aside to celebrate the achievements of blind or visually impaired people and highlight the White Cane’s prominence as a critical tool in their mastery of independent mobility.


The group will gather at 12:30 pm on Thursday, October 14, at the Renaissance Plaza fountain, at 200 Main Street. It will proceed south on Mamaroneck Avenue, stopping at intersections to hand out literature and speak with the public. Members of the public will be given an opportunity to use a cane themselves with the assistance of a sighted partner!


“We want people to know blindness doesn’t limit us,” stated WCBNY President Maria Samuels.





WCBNY is a 501-C3 nonprofit volunteer and advocacy organization with the mission to help improve the lives of blind and visually impaired persons in Westchester county and beyond. We were founded in 2002 as a chapter of the American Council of the Blind of New York. We are the leading advocacy group in Westchester County for the blind. For more information, visit



GDUES is a volunteer organization and special interest chapter of the American Council of the Blind of New York whose mission is to promote advocacy and independence for guide dog teams in the Empire State. For more information, visit

International Guide Dog Day

        A message from Guide Dog Users of the Empire State (GDUES)

April 29, 2020

It’s International Guide Dog Day, a day set aside to recognize the work that our loving and loyal canine companions do for us every day.  Each year International Guide Dog Day is celebrated on the last Wednesday of April.

It takes a village to raise a puppy and help it gain the necessary skills to become a guide dog.  Every year staff and volunteers from training organizations around the world breed, raise and train guide dogs and partner them with blind handlers.  Our dogs are our heroes, and today is a way to let others know just how much we appreciate them.

Now that we have raised some paws and wagged a few tails to celebrate, we also want to share what it is like to be blind and out in public with a guide dog. During this year of worldwide crisis GDUES wants to share a few tips about how you can help people who are blind maintain social distancing.

When you see a guide dog team, please don’t pet, feed, call or distract the dog. Speak to the handler. It is important for the public to know that guide dogs don’t know about physical distancing. Our dogs are trained to move around obstacles, not to stop six feet away from a door, or in line at the supermarket or pharmacy.    It’s important to understand a blind person using a white cane or a guide dog cannot always accurately measure distances or see lines on the floor.

Since we might not hear you come out of the store as we go in, a quick “Hello,” would help. Or, “Hi, you are at the end of the line.: or “Hi, you can Move up a few steps,”. When passing a guide dog handler outside, saying hello will help us keep required physical distancing by hearing where you are in relation to us.

We want to follow the same health and safety precautions as everyone else, however, we might require a little more information than normal.  We are all in this together.

The mission of GDUES is to advocate for and support guide dog teams living and working in New York State. Learn more by going to

Service Dog Tips for Businesses

Service Animal Access

What Businesses and Establishments Should Know

• A business has the right to ask only 2 questions of a service dog handler: 1. “Is this a service dog?” 2. “What assistance does it perform?”

• If the answer is “Comfort” dog, or “Emotional support” then it is not a legal service dog recognized by the ADA or Canadian Human Rights Law, and need

not be allowed entry.

Behaviorally appropriate, Trained Guide, medical alert, hearing alert, as well as PTSD and autism service dogs can, by law, accompany their owners anywhere the public is allowed.

• Note: Any dog, including a legitimate service dog, that is aggressive or cannot refrain from soiling indoors may be legally ejected from the business by law. Such dogs are a threat not only to your clientele, but to other legitimate service dogs.

•Visit: ADA Hotline (U.S.): 800.514.0301 Canadian Human Rights Commission: 888.214.1090

•Please help curb the epidemic of “Fake” service dogs by understanding and asserting your rights as a business owner or manager.

International Guide Dog Day

For Immediate Release


April 26, 2017


Media Contact Annie Chiappetta, President, Guide Dog Users of the Empire State



Becky Davidson, Guiding Eyes for the Blind 914-243-2210


Westchester County Executive Astorino Proclaims a Special Day for Guide Dogs

White Plains, NY – April 26, 2017 – Westchester County Executive Robert P. Astorino met with guide dog  users and advocates in recognition of International Guide Dog Day. Guiding Eyes for the Blind and Westchester Council of the Blind received proclamations from Mr. Astorino in honor of International Guide Dog Day.


.  The president of Guide Dog Users of the Empire State and the Director of the Office for People with Disabilities for Westchester County were also present, joined by a County employee who is a guide dog user and two other guide dog teams, also Westchester residents.


International Guide Dog day was instituted in 1989 to commemorate the formation of the International Guide Dog Federation and is recognized worldwide on the last Wednesday of April.


Additionally, throughout the day on April 26, the video screen at the Westchester County Center will be flashing an announcement and New York State offices in other counties will be turning the building lights blue and white to support guide dogs.

“We want to thank Westchester County for helping us recognize just how special our dogs are,” says Annie Chiappetta, President of Guide Dog Users of the Empire State.

Ms. Chiappetta goes on to say that anyone can help celebrate by supporting   activities and charity drives in your area that donate to local guide dog schools, like Guiding Eyes for the Blind, or organizations that support breeding, training and matching guide dogs with visually impaired individuals.

Becky Davidson, Manager of Consumer Outreach and Graduate Support for Guiding Eyes for the Blind concurs, “Our lives would not be the same without them,”

For more information on Guiding Eyes for the Blind, go to

For more information about Guide Dog Users of the Empire State, go to

For more information about the International Guide Dog Federation, go to

For more information on the Westchester council of the Blind, go to:




Kaiser Campaign

What does making craft beer and   supporting guide dogs have in common?    Hmm, still thinking? Dog treats, of course.

Thanks to a retired guide dog, his former partner and a puppy raiser, we found a New York based dog treat maker who wants to help us by donating up to 40% of treat sales back to GDUES.

We are naming this first online endeavor the Kaiser Campaign, after the big, gentle Labrador who loves these treats, Kaiser and for all he symbolizes in the spirit of guide dogs

Hungry Hound Beerscuits are made with fresh, human grade ingredients like barley, pumpkin, eggs, and peanut butter and baked to a yummy crunch.

Click here to read about this unique and delicious dog treat made by Hungry Hound Beerscuits LLC

In order for Guide Dog Users of the Empire State to receive a donation from an online sale, you must enter the online code GDUES in the form before check out. Please share this fundraiser with everyone you know. Thanks to the folks at Hungry Hound for making this fundraiser possible and visit to read about how we advocate for and support guide dog teams in New York or to

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