MIRA – The only organization in the United States dedicated to providing guide dogs to blind children and youth between the ages of 11-17.
MIRA: from the Spanish “look”, “to have one’s sights set on”, was the nickname of a favorite guide dog trained by Eric St. Pierre, founder of MIRA Canada. MIRA Foundation USA takes its name from its collaboration with MIRA Canada, a nonprofit organization founded in 1981 upon the belief that all individuals, regardless of their physical challenges, should be able to set their sights on the same goals as those people born without handicaps.
Today, MIRA Canada is recognized as a global leader in the breeding, selection, and training of guide and service dogs. MIRA USA was created in 2008 as a legally separate entity, but with close ties to MIRA Canada, where our dogs are currently trained.
Our mission is to offer blind children in the United States between the ages of 11-17 the opportunity to receive guide dogs free of charge, to provide targeted educational outreach to promote public awareness, and, as we continue to grow, to offer support services to the adult population of blind and their families.
It is our experience that blind children, for the most part, are highly adaptive, fiercely determined, and seek to have many of the same opportunities as their sighted peers. Although a cane provides an adequate degree of mobility for the blind and severely visually impaired, there remain some serious limitations. For example, it is impossible to navigate with a cane when there is no tactical information such as what is provided by sidewalks. A child living in a rural area is severely challenged by this restriction.
Furthermore, a cane tends to be isolating, whereas a dog provides a social bridge to the sighted community. Not only are dogs social creatures, they also provide stability and a level of protection through their visual awareness training that a cane could never replicate.
Finally, a guide dog provides a young blind person with a greater level of self-reliance at an early age. Although a very young student is not going to be out on the streets alone with their dog, having the ability to navigate without holding a parent’s hand is crucial to developing maturity and confidence. The student’s freedom and mobility are especially enhanced in the school environment with the assistance of a guide dog. Although there is no cure for blindness, there can be hope, and we at MIRA witness it every day through the service of a MIRA guide dog.
MIRA FOUNDATION USA, INC. is a 501C(3) corporation, tax id# 26-3603779, and donations are tax deductible.