Disaster Assistance and Preparedness Program (DAPP)

The Disaster Assistance and Preparedness Program (DAPP) is now available to GDUI members who are teamed with a guide dog. The fund was created in June 2011 with the funding provided by a private donation.  Since then, the program has been renamed to better reflect its purpose.

A devastating event like an earthquake, wild fire, or act of terrorism can leave people feeling confused and not sure where to go for help. Because we know that adversity can befall any one of us, leaving us with few resources and even fewer places to turn for help, Guide Dog Users Inc., (GDUI) offers the Disaster Assistance and preparedness Program (DAPP).

GDUI members with working dogs recovering from a catastrophic event can apply for a stipend to purchase dog food and other essential supplies on behalf of their working dogs.

We encourage all GDUI members who are currently working with guide dogs to read the instructions outlined below carefully; if you find yourselves facing financial crisis in caring for your dog as a result of a natural disaster or catastrophic event, to call or e-mail and ask us for help. Who can apply • Once the application is submitted, the proposed funds shall be issued only to a current GDUI member with a current working guide dog. • Guide dog and handler must have been directly and negatively impacted by a recent

Disaster and in need of financial assistance for the well-being of the working dog.

  • GDUI’s Disaster Assistance and Preparedness Program funds will be available for three (3) weeks from the first date of a known and declared disaster. • Each GDUI member with a guide dog will be allowed a onetime monetary assistance grant of $50.00 after the application is processed. • Prior to releasing any funds, the applicant’s required information and qualifications will be verified and approved by the DAPP committee.
  • Upon approval, the funds will be issued by GDUI ‘Treasurer (or designee), to the applicant or directly to a vendor such as a pet food store or veterinarian depending on each circumstance. • An applicant must live in the affected area and have been negatively impacted. Additionally, the working guide dog must be in immediate need of resources to ensure proper daily care, food, medicine, veterinary intervention and/or to meet other needs.

How to Apply please read this section before proceeding to the bottom of the page for the contact information. Thank you.

Please note, in the event the handler does not have any means of contacting GDUI due to the present disaster, he/she may have one of the following individuals or organizations communicate on his/her behalf: family member, friend, veterinary hospital or clinic, Humane Society, Red Cross/hospital, Salvation Army, religious institution, local or acting police or fire department or similar agency.

Depending on the individual circumstances, additional assistance may be requested by   the applicant,   based upon prior approval by the DAPP committee for possible additional funds.

  • The approved funds may be issued in the form of a gift card from a known store which carries pet/dog supplies or tendered as a pre-paid credit card. Funds may also be directly transferred to a Veterinarian or Veterinary hospital or clinic. The monies may also be issued by a GDUI check or money order, wire transfer or other means depending on the handler’s circumstances. The means of issued funds will be determined by the treasurer (or designee) in consultation with the applicant. • All information submitted to GDUI by the applicant may be used by the GDUI Board of Directors or committee of the Board for purposes of determining approval of the application. All information will be held in the strictest of confidence. A news release may be issued but the name of the recipient and/or guide dog will be kept confidential per applicant’s request.

***Exceptions of Eligibility*** The Disaster Assistance & Preparedness Program is not available for a retired guide dog, a puppy in training and / or puppy raiser, or any household pet.

***APPLICATION Process*** All necessary information is required before any funds will be issued. Required Information: The following information may be provided by telephone or e-mail before eligibility is determined. We are sympathetic to the high stress levels experienced by both guide dog handlers and their dogs, and we will do our best to secure all the required information so we can respond quickly. Please have the following information ready when making initial contact:

  • Handlers full name, home address, city, state, zip code and phone number(s), at the time of the disaster.
  • If applicant’s living situation is unsustainable, i.e., homeless/shelter/family/friends, GDUI require the following information: the name of the shelter, the name of the shelter director, and phone number of the shelter. If staying with family or friends, please provide the name, address and phone number of new location.

How to Contact GDUI DAPP Volunteer Staff:  Applicants and/or those assisting the applicant can call or Email any member of the DAPP Committee:

Sarah Calhoun, Chair (Missouri)

Home: 636-942-5956

Cell: 314-753-5191

Bob Acosta (California)

Home: 818-9980044

Cell: 818-620-2200

Ann Chiappetta (New York)

Cell: 914-393-6605

Lynn Merrill, GDUI Treasurer (Maine)

Cell: 207-458-1362

Ken Metz (California)

Home: 818-882-3610

Cell: 323-793-1805

Dixie Sanderson (Connecticut)

Cell: 203-453-6474

Ron Brooks, Arizona Cell: 602-616-1171

Jane Sheehan, Office Manager (Maryland)


Revised 10/2014 A.C.

Guide Dog Users, Inc. Announces Position Statement on the Misrepresentation of Service Animals

The organization’s statement is a direct response to the growing epidemic of members of the public passing their pets off as service animals, impeding on the civil rights of those who are blind and rely on legitimate service animals to gain access to public venues.


For Immediate Release



Silver Spring, MD Guide Dog Users, Inc. (GDUI), the leading organization of blind and visually impaired people who rely on guide dogs as mobility assistants in the United States, has announced its official policy regarding people who attempt to misrepresent their pets as service animals in venues where pets are not generally allowed. The statement aims to inform members of the general public about the civil rights which people who are blind and visually impaired rely upon to guarantee their access to public venues with their guide dogs and to inform business owners about their obligations under the law as well as their rights to deny admittance to animals who do not qualify as legitimate service animals. “It makes it hard for all of us who depend on our legitimate service animals for independent travel when business owners question our right to visit their establishments in the company of our guide dogs or when untrained or uncontrolled pets masquerading as service animals distract our dogs or make it unsafe for us or our dogs to share the same space,” says Penny Reeder of Montgomery Village, MD, president of Guide Dog Users, Inc.  Continuing, “The frenzy of nationwide news reports stating that businesses are being inundated with people passing off their pets as service animals has heightened suspicions which makes it even more difficult for individuals with legitimate service animals to access public places. That is why GDUI’s Legislative and Advocacy Committees will be focusing on the issues related to the misuse of pets as service animals during coming months.” Businesses are often unsure of their legal rights and responsibilities when confronted with the need to authenticate whether a service animal is legitimate or “fake.” The number of people with hidden disabilities who use service animals has been increasing. And, many people with Emotional Support Animals believe — mistakenly — that they have the right to be accompanied by their dogs in all public areas. All of these factors have led to confusion about who has a right to bring a service animal where, what qualifies a dog to be called a service animal, and a steady erosion of public trust. According to Penny Reeder, “GDUI has developed this official position statement to help businesses and the general public better understand the scope of the problem. The statement includes recommended actions. In addition to helping to educate business owners, GDUI members and affiliates hope to help reduce the number of unruly and aggressive pets in public places by advocating for tougher state laws. There is evidence showing that when businesses post signs warning patrons that fraudulently misrepresenting service animals is a misdemeanor, complaints about “fake” service animals are significantly reduced. Currently sixteen States have either criminal or civil laws against misrepresenting a pet as a service animal. GDUI members and affiliates will be advocating to increase that number.


For more information, visit: or



About Guide Dog Users, Inc.:


Founded in 1972, as an affiliate of the American Council of the Blind (ACB), Guide Dog Users, Inc. is the largest advocacy organization for guide dog users in the United States and strives to promote civil rights and enhance the quality of life for working guide dog teams. Drawing on the experiences and varied knowledge of its members, GDUI provides peer support, advocacy and information to guide dog users in every region of the country. For more information on GDUI’s position statement, its mission and activities, please send an email to President Reeder at



Contact: Will Burley / 866-799-8436 /