Wells Jones, CEO of the Guide Dog Foundation and America’s VetDogs, to Retire
Smithtown, NY (September 7, 2017)
– The Guide Dog Foundation and America’s VetDogs announced today that CEO Wells B. Jones will retire in January 2018 after more than 28 years at the helm of the organizations.
Jones has served as chief executive officer of the Guide Dog Foundation since 1989, and of America’s VetDogs since 2006.
“It has been the highest honor of my life to work with such an incredible team, all striving to achieve a single goal – to enable people with disabilities to live without boundaries,” he says. “I am proud of all we have accomplished over the years.”
Under Jones’s leadership, in addition to providing guide dogs and training, the Guide Dog Foundation became an ardent advocate for people with disabilities, working to ensure their rights to be accompanied by their assistance dog in all places open to the public.
Jones oversaw the expansion of the Guide Dog Foundation campus in 2000-2001 from two small buildings in Smithtown, to a 10-acre, three-building compound, with a separate training center, breeding and development center, and student residence and administrative offices. Included on the grounds are mock city streets to act as a training aid.
During his tenure, the Guide Dog Foundation and America’s VetDogs employed innovative development and program strategies that have seen both organizations experience growth in both charitable revenue generated and numbers of individuals served, whether visually impaired, or with disabilities other than blindness.
He has overseen the implementation and growth of America’s VetDogs, from a project of the Guide Dog Foundation in 2003 to a separate organization that trains guide dogs for blind veterans, service dogs for those with other disabilities, hearing dogs for deaf and hard-of-hearing veterans, and PTSD service dogs for those with PTSD as a primary disability.
Both the Guide Dog Foundation and America’s VetDogs were accredited by the International Guide Dog Federation and Assistance Dogs International, the two international bodies that certify assistance dog schools on a voluntary basis, the first two schools in the United States to be accredited by both organizations.
In addition, Jones has created strategic partnerships with diverse groups such as NBC, which features Charlie, the “puppy with a purpose” who is training to be a service dog for a disabled veteran, and Lighthouse Guild International, which provides services for those who are blind or visually impaired. The purpose of these partnerships is to enhance the services the Foundation and America’s VetDogs can offer people with disabilities and to educate the public on the importance of guide and service dogs.
As a proponent for the rights of people with disabilities, Jones currently serves on the board of the International Guide Dog Federation, VisionServe Alliance, and the Council of US Guide Dog Schools. In the past, he has served on the boards of Assistance Dogs International, ADI North America, and was the founding chair of ADI North America’s Breeding Cooperative.
About the Guide Dog Foundation
For more than 70 years, the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind, Inc. (www.GuideDog.org
), 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 over $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. Its sister organization, America’s VetDogs, trains and provides guide, service, and hearing dogs for disabled veterans and first responders.
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.
About America’s VetDogs
Since 2003, America’s VetDogs (www.VetDogs.org
) has trained and placed guide and service dogs to provide independence, enhanced mobility, and companionship to veterans with disabilities from all eras. In 2015, VetDogs opened its programs to first responders, including fire, police, and emergency medical personnel. America's VetDogs is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization founded by the Guide Dog Foundation. VetDogs relies on contributions from generous individuals, corporations, service clubs, and foundations to fund its mission to help those who have served our country live with dignity and independence. It costs over $50,000 to breed, raise, train, and place one assistance dog, but America’s VetDogs provides its services completely free of charge to the individual.
Be sure to catch Charlie, the VetDogs “Puppy with a Purpose” daily on NBC’s TODAY.
America’s VetDogs has been accredited by both the International Guide Dog Federation and Assistance Dogs International.