Pictured above: Malta Guide Dogs Foundation Chairman Leone Sciberras (centre) and Deputy Chairman Christine Mifsud with (from left) Francis Naudi, Treasurer, board observer Victor Delceppo and the two directors of the Helen Keller Regional Centre Guide Dog School of the Italian Blind Union, Moreno Innocenti and Fabrizio Zingale
A delegation from the Malta Guide Dogs Foundation has just returned from a trip to Messina, Sicily, where it visited the Helen Keller Regional Centre Guide Dog School of the Italian Blind Union.
The delegation was headed by Leone Sciberras, Chairman of the Malta Guide Dogs Foundation, and was also composed of Christine Mifsud, Deputy Chairman; Francis Naudi, Treasurer; and board observer Victor Delceppo.
Meetings were held with the directors of the centre, Moreno Innocenti and Fabrizio Zingale, with a view to formalising an agreement between the MGDF and the centre for it to train and match dogs sent from Malta to Maltese applicants.
Four dogs sent from Malta are currently in Messina for training and, if they are not matched with any local applicants, the centre has agreed to match them with Italian applicants and then to replace these dogs with others when there is local demand.
Another subject discussed was the assessment of applicants and the procedure to be adopted since the centre requires details of the applicant’s mobility and other personal details, including the number of family members and whether the home has a garden.
A video is taken of the person walking with a white cane to enable the centre to better assess the applicant’s mobility and a medical report is submitted so that it can be aware of any other conditions.
“This was a highly positive visit,” Mr Sciberras commented, “and I am optimistic that the Messina centre will, along with another centre in Bratislava, Slovakia, continue to provide fully trained guide dogs to the Foundation for many years to come.”
All travel expenses related to the guide dogs, which are brought from a special breeding centre in Nice, France, and their medical expenses are covered through the assistance of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (SMOM), while the dog’s nutritional needs are handled by Borg Cardona Ltd, importers of Royal Canin products.