Guide Dogs Association Turkey

Our association aims to help visually impaired people to gain their self confidence amongst the community and therefore move freely.

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I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria and terms of the Purina BetterwithPets Prize and, based on its description, I am eligible to apply:

  • Yes, I’m eligible

Should you be successful, please confirm your availability to attend:

  • Additional Skype interview(s) during the week of March 16-20th 2020
  • The Purina BetterwithPets Forum in Paris, on 3-4th of June 2020

Initiative's representative name

Ceren Ozyaprak

Initiative's representative date of birth

6101993

Initiative's representative gender

  • Woman

Headquarters location: country

  • Turkey

Headquarters location: city

Istanbul

Where are you making a difference?

Turkey

Website or social media url(s)

https://rehberkopeklerdernegi.org/

Date Started

10/2014

Focus Areas

  • Promote inclusivity
  • Help visually impaired people move freely with guide dogs' company.

What is your current yearly budget for the initiative? If you are an idea stage, what early budget you would need to kick-off and run operations in your first year?

  • €10k - €50k

Organisation Type

  • nonprofit/NGO: an organisation that uses its resources to achieve a purpose outside of creating profit

1. Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that led the founder(s) to get started or the story of how you saw the potential for this project to succeed.

The story of our association began when Att. Nurdeniz Tuncer met with British Ambassador Richard Moore's wife Maggie Moore. Maggie, who was also visually impaired, had a guide dog. While they were chatting they laid the foundations of the association in 2014, based on the fact that this is important need since there are 756 thousands blind people in Turkey. The Guide Dogs Association is the first and the only association that provides guide dog service for the visually impaired/blind people. Att. Nurdeniz Tuncer's guide dog Kara is the first guide dog of Turkey. After Kara 4 more dogs started to work.

2. The problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

Currently there are 756 thousands of visually impaired/blind people live in Turkey and they live their lives dependent on someone. We try to support visually impaired/blind people with guide dogs to move freely and participate in life. Until today, The Guide Dogs Association provided guide dogs to 5 people, 170 people are waiting and the number increases. Our main goal is to make guide dogs part of daily life and support blind people.

3. Your solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

Our mission is providing guide dogs to visually impaired people and raise awareness in the society about how guide dogs make their life easier. Our vision is supporting the idea that accessibility is a right not an option. We also aim to support more people with disabilities and visually impaired by raising awareness in the community about the benefits of guide dogs for visually impaired people and encouraging companies to access workplaces.

4. Innovation: How are you innovating or using unique approaches to solve the problem?

Guide dogs are known in many countries such as Germany and the USA, are trained dogs that will guide the visually impaired individuals on the street and protect them from obstacles by being their eyes. There was no guide dog association before 2014, and nobody had extensve knowledge of guide dogs. As The Guide Dogs Association we visited schools, universities, companies, municipalities and had seminars on what a guide dog does. As results of these works guide dogs are welcomed in public transportation, theatres, most of the shopping centers and so on. The number of people seeking information about guide dogs has increased by fifteen percent in the past year. From the beginning of 2020 two companies had contact us about sponsorship.

5. How does your project harness the pet-human bond to help people develop important social competencies (For example: emotional intelligence, collaboration, empathy, resilience, inclusivity) and overcome serious societal issues (for example: violence, abuse, trauma, isolation, abandonment)?

Our project helps the visually impaired individuals to overcome obstacles and join the society with guide dogs.The individual who has a guide dog increases his/her self-confidence, goes to the street more confidently, s/he can do things s/he can not do alone with his dog. A unique and strong link is established between the dog and the visually impaired. They spend the whole day together and support each other.

6. Impact: how has your project made a difference so far in terms of both business outputs and social impact? How do you plan on measuring progress?

Since the foundation of association, we raised awareness and introduced guide dogs to Turkish people. Currently, five guide dogs are working in different cities in Turkey. They can ride on public transportation, get in to public places and most importantly started to be known.

7. Growth strategies: what are your main strategies for scaling your impact?

Our primary goal is to start a guide dog school to continue our activities in a bigger scale. At the first guide dog school of Turkey, we plan to train more dogs due to capacity of the school, support more visiually impaired/blind and schedule awareness activities. With bigger amenities we plan to reach more people.

8. Creating shared value: How does your initiative create value for different stakeholders?

We always support the idea of having equal opportunities. Having a guide dog gives the opportunity to be independent for visually impaired/blind. With a little bit help we believe we can offer everyone a better world to live in. Also, our supporters can benefit from supporting a change maker like us. For example, Zorlu Center (early supporter of Guide Dog Association) was chosen best shopping center of Europe and the world from its support for the Guide Dogs Association.

9. Financial sustainability plan: can you tell us about your plan to fund your project and how that plan will be sustainable in the short, medium, and long term?

We aim to raise as many guide dogs as possible in near future. For our medium term plan, as we mentioned above, we aim to start the first guide dog school in Turkey. Also we already have a dog accommodation center, we aim to expand it on the side of starting the first guide dog school. With a solid financial plan that is made by our expert volunteers, we plan to balance our income and expenses. In case of starting our guide dog school, some national and international establishments have already expressed their future support. In long term, our main goal is making guide dogs a part of daily life in Turkey.

10. Team: what is the current composition of your team (types of roles, qualifications, full-time vs. part-time, board members, etc.), and how do you plan to evolve the team’s composition as the project grows?

Currently, we have one full-time administrative secretary and one full-time trainer who is working by paycheck. Apart from that we have more than 100 volunteers registered. In case of growth, our priority is increasing the amount of trainers. Because, according to international standards, a trainer can train no more than ten dogs per year. In order for the process to proceed in a healthy and fast manner and to reach every region, we need to have at least ten trainers in our organisation.

11. How do you plan to influence your field of work if you are a winner of this edition of the Purina BetterwithPets Prize?

We plan to influence all the members of society by showing them everyone is included. For this goal we are providing the guide dogs to blind/visually impaired at no cost. We even provide the food and veterinary services with the help of our sponsors.

12. How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Purina page or contact

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Photo of Cagla Cankirili

We, as Life with Dogs Association Turkey, follow and fully support the efforts of your team. Very important and also brand new subject for our country. Just let us know if you need anything :)
Best wishes!