Heroic Guide Dog Honored for Protecting its Blind Handler 

Smithtown, NY (October 26, 2015) The Guide Dog Foundation is proud to announce that one of its guide dogs is the recipient of the prestigious ASPCA Dog of the Year award. Figo, a male Golden Retriever, and his handler Audrey Stone were struck by a bus while crossing a major street in Brewster, New York, last June.  As they crossed, witnesses say the dog, walking on Stone's left side, switched sides and positioned himself in the path of the bus in order to shield Stone.  However, both the dog and Stone were struck by the vehicle. Figo’s legs were severely injured, and Stone suffered a broken ankle, broken ribs, and a head injury. 

Despite his severe injuries, Figo did not leave his handler’s side until first responders arrived, and both Stone and Figo were taken to the hospital.  Figo has since received a clean bill of health and recently returned to the Guide Dog Foundation for evaluation of his guide work.  He was cleared to return to Stone’s side to resume working together as a team once she’s fully recovered.   

We are tremendously proud of Figo, who demonstrated such bravery, and we were extremely thankful to hear that both he and Audrey survived such a horrible accident,” says Wells Jones, CEO of the Guide Dog Foundation.  “Crossing roads and negotiating traffic are potentially the most dangerous aspects of travelling for pedestrians who are blind or have low vision.”    

Guide dogs are trained extensively to work alongside traffic to help develop the dog’s awareness and danger of moving vehicles.  They are taught to avoid approaching traffic, and if it is unsafe, to disobey their handlers command to go forward.  This is called “intelligent disobedience.”   

Figo and Stone will be honored by the ASPCA at the Humane Awards luncheon on November 12, 2015, in New York City.

About the Guide Dog Foundation

For 70 years, the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind, Inc., has trained and placed guide and service dogs to provide independence, enhanced mobility, and companionship to people who are blind, have low vision, or who have other special needs.  The Guide Dog Foundation is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization that relies on contributions from generous individuals, corporations, service clubs, and foundations to fund its mission to serve people with disabilities. It costs more than $50,000 to breed, raise, train, and place one assistance dog, but the Guide Dog Foundation provides its services completely free of charge to the individual.  

The Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind was the first assistance dog school in the United States to be accredited by both the International Guide Dog Federation and Assistance Dogs International. 

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