About Us

The Missouri Guide Dog Users (MGDU), is a 501(C) 3 nonprofit organization, which supports all guide dog teams throughout Missouri. Our membership includes both individuals who employ guide dogs as our primary means of mobility and our family members, friends, and those interested in the work of these remarkable service dogs. MGDU has been in existence since 1998, the organization was formed by eight guide dog handlers residing in the Joplin, Missouri area, among them Chip Hailey and his wife Linda, who were instrumental in the early years promoting the organization and helping to carry its cause forward. The creators of MGDU felt the need to reach out to other Missouri guide dog teams, organizing a group that would empower and enrich other guide dog handlers’ lives. This would provide comradeship, information, and resources for guide dog users across the Show-Me state. The cornerstone of this organization is the strong support, and comradeship members offer each other in various activities a guide dog team encounters. This ranges from but is not limited to the variety of working methods, health issues, guide dog schools, the retirement of a guide dog, and legislative issues relevant to guide dog teams.Missouri Guide Dog Users is a proud affiliate of the Missouri Council of the Blind, as well as the American Council of the Blind. MGDU actively supports Missouri guide dog teams. Our primary advocacy efforts are in advocating for the enforcement of the laws and regulations stated in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA became law in 1990 and was revised in 2010, and is administrated by the Department of Justice (DOJ). We strive to keep our members updated to changes or revisions in state or federal laws concerning access issues for service dogs. Anyone interested in supporting and contributing to the welfare of guide dog teams is welcome to become a member. You do not have to use a guide dog to join MGDU. If you are interested in learning how a service dog and handler work together as a team, MGDU is the right place to be. We are a friendly organization for you to gain knowledge directly from active guide dog users. Many of our members are happy to give presentations to schools, organizations, various clubs, demonstrating how a handler and guide dog work as a team, explaining the communication, hand and voice commands as they navigate in public areas, various methods of transportation, and in the workplace. MGDU members can share in detail the amazing work a team can successfully accomplish together. When you become a member of MGDU, you are eligible for the following benefits:
Monetary support for handlers whose dogs require veterinary services
Assists handlers in procuring harnesses when needed
A quarterly magazine called “Tails Across Missouri”
The magazine, “Tails Across Missouri” is filled with wonderful stories contributed by members and friends, sharing the many experiences they have encountered with their guide dogs. Tributes and loving memories to honor the life and companionship and work of our beautiful four-legged furry friends are included. Information and updates of laws, rules, and regulations concerning access, air travel, and other accommodations for service dogs and handlers are just some of the topics of articles in the magazine.Missouri Guide Dog Users hold a meeting every month. All members may participate as the meetings are by telephone conference call. An informative resource is MGDU’s own website www.mgdu.org. It contains pictures of adventures, dogs and handlers at work and play, as well as other revealing photos giving you an insight into the daily lives of our hard-working dogs. Information on upcoming projects and events is listed. Membership dues and contact information are available on MGDU’s web page. If you wish to make a donation to the mission of MGDU, the information is provided as well. You can see and track the progress of our organization by visiting our website often. Whether this is your first, second, third, or more guide dog, or if you would like to be involved in the world of guide dogs, Missouri Guide Dog Users welcomes you to join, sharing information with each other while keeping informed and up to date on service dog issues. This enhances our lives as we trail across Missouri with our guide dogs, enjoying the freedom and independence we gain through working with these wonderful dogs.