Learn About the Canine Development Center

Creating the Canine Development Center

How were the cost and scale of the project determined?

In 2011, a Kennel Redesign Task Force was formed at Leader Dog to assess the future of the kennel facility. In February 2012, we retained Animal Arts (an architectural firm specializing in the design of innovative animal care environments that contribute to overall animal wellness and socializing) to do an assessment of the existing kennel facility. It was determined that while the kennel was structurally sound, the existing individual housing units were too small and not configured in keeping with the organization’s approach to caring for and training guide dogs. Additionally, the puppy area, veterinary clinic, and breeding capacities and functions created significant challenges to workflow because of the existing building's limitations.

A comparative analysis of potential project costs based on different designs was conducted. Looking at the practicality of these scenarios and the effective return on investment, it was concluded that it was cost effective to move forward with the current conceptual master plan. This version of the project is true to the needs and goals of Leader Dog.

Why did Leader Dog choose to renovate rather than opt for new construction?

We still have a mission to serve clients during construction, and we also need a place for all our dogs and kennel services. The cost of new construction would have put the project out of reach. Much of the existing structure is viable and supports a renovation over new construction.

How much of the kennel will be renovated?

Of the kennel facility's 69,334 square feet, 68% of it will be renovated, 20% will be demolished and rebuilt and 12% will remain as it is.

Will Leader Dog serve more clients?

The Canine Development Center will support current needs as well as provide the ability to house more dogs, which positions us to serve more clients in the future.

What will happen with the dogs during construction?

The renovation will occur in phases over a period of 18–22 months. The second phase includes the bays (dog housing areas) which will be demolished and rebuilt one at a time, allowing the remaining bays to house our dogs.


How will this project impact the mission of Leader Dogs for the Blind?

This project is about creating the best possible environment to breed, train and care for Leader Dogs and better serve our clients. We know that the kennel environment has an important impact on every stage of a Leader Dog’s development. Every aspect of the Canine Development Center will have an impact on the health, well-being and training of Leader Dogs, ensuring that we are developing the highest quality dogs for our clients.

Our kennel facility was built several decades ago when the needs of our clients, our training methods and standards in veterinary care were vastly different. The kennel renovation will bring our facility up to date for the 21st century.

What impact will the renovation have on Leader Dog's canines?

Our veterinarians and other specialists know that environment plays an important role in the socialization, training and development of our dogs. The Canine Development Center will provide better climate control, more open spaces, more opportunities for socialization and stimulation, better access to the veterinary clinic, and areas designed specifically for each type of dog, whether it is a puppy, a breeding stock dog or a Leader Dog in training, all with modern knowledge of dog behaviors and needs in mind. These vital changes will help us develop the highest quality dogs possible and consequently better serve our clients.

What impact will this project have on Leader Dog’s bottom line?

The renovation will greatly improve the layout and efficiency of our kennel. This will allow our staff (the most significant line item on our budget) and our 240+ on-site volunteers to work more effectively and efficiently. Additionally, the energy savings gained by upgrading the central operating systems (water, heating and electric) will offset the cost of installing much needed air conditioning to 80% of the facility that currently doesn’t have it.

The Campaign

When did the campaign start?

The campaign planning started in August 2013 and early phases began in 2014 (our 75th anniversary year) and continue through 2015. The public phase of the campaign began on April 29, 2015, on International Guide Dog Day.

How much does the campaign aim to raise?

Leader Dogs for the Blind looks to raise $14.5 million for the campaign to complete the Canine Development Center.

What happens if Leader Dog raises more than $14.5 million for the campaign?

Leader Dogs for the Blind’s chief financial officer is working in conjunction with the board of trustees to develop plans as to what can be done with excess funds should the $14.5 million goal be surpassed. As soon as these plans have been agreed upon, they will be shared with the public.

What is the role of Leader Dogs for the Blind Foundation in funding Leader Dogs for the Blind?

The Leader Dogs for the Blind Foundation provides critical ongoing support for the general operations of Leader Dogs for the Blind. The foundation makes an annual grant to Leader Dogs for the Blind, which allows for financial stability and mitigates the variability of fundraising. As Leader Dog for the Blind provides multiple dogs for clients over a lifetime, the foundation provides for the future sustainability of the organization.

What type of support will be given by the Leader Dogs for the Blind Foundation to the campaign? Can the foundation cover the full amount needed for the project?

The Leader Dogs for the Blind Foundation made a seven figure pledge to this campaign. However, contributing the full amount needed for the Canine Development Center is not a sustainable solution. Why? 1) The foundation has a little over $65 million in assets, of which it contributes five percent annually to Leader Dog for operations; 2) Loss of principal investments creates a net loss in earnings for current and future years; 3) Investment by the foundation of the full $14.5 million required would create an annual loss to Leader Dog of $750,000 or more in operational funds; and 4) Creating an instability at the foundation jeopardizes the next 75 years for Leader Dog.