Guide dogs still in service in Arkansas amid coronavirus pandemic

LITTLE ROCK, Ark — People with certain disabilities may need extra help to get around.

For example, guide dogs are the sight for people who are blind. These animals help those have the freedom to live on their own.

“You know, if you’re using a cane and you run into an obstacle, you have to figure it out,” said Sharon Giovinazzo. “A dog is planning two blocks ahead, looking to see where they are going and how they are going to do it.”

RELATED: University of Central Arkansas organization trains future service dogs

However, when the coronavirus started spreading, that put a delay to getting those crucial services. 

“We are just really way behind,” says Eric Loori, Founder and Trainer of Freedom Guide Dogs for the Blind. 

“We were supposed to place guide dogs by the end of April and here it is the first of May and there’s still a number of places and states you can’t go into,” said Loori.

Since Arkansas doesn’t have a stay-in-place order, that wasn’t the case for Sharon. 

Pilot and Sharon have been together almost a week now and they’re both still getting to know each other better. 

She describes her new companion as calm, cool, and collected.

“He’s so smart that you can see him problem-solving,” said Giovinazzo. “We were walking and I purposefully took a route where I knew there was an obstacle you can’t get around without walking into the street and he figured out the pathway to get back to it.”

RELATED: At least 100 dogs rescued in Pulaski Co. from ‘hoarding situation’

This is Sharon’s third guide dog. Her last dog, Watson, retired.

Pilot is two years old and Sharon tells us he is the new CEO (Canine Executive Officer) for her company, World Services for the Blind.