Local Woman Gets Guide HorseLansdale, Pa. March 22, 2004 — A visually impaired Lansdale woman is among one of the first in the nation to use a unique guide animal. As Action News Reporter SallyAnn Mosey tells us, guide animals are not always the furry friends we're used to!
Shari Bernstiel is visually impaired, *legally* blind, with a degenerative eye disease. She uses a guide animal but it's not the four-legged friend you may think!
Meet Tonto! Since December, the two-foot tall, three-year-old gelding has been performing the job of a guide animal, safely taking shari where she needs to go.
Shari Bernstiel/LANSDALE, PA.: "I need to tell him which direction we're going..he will get me there safely."
That's including guiding up-and-down stairs, along and across the street, and on occasion he's in walking shoes so as not to slide on slippery floors at the shopping mall.
While shari realizes it's a novelty to see a miniature horse in public places, the biggest problem is people coming up to pet him...
Shari's a lifelong horse lover but never imagined having one until she heard a t-v report stating the life expectancy of a seeing-eye horse is more than double that of a dog...living in some cases up to 40-years.
Like most guide animals, Tonto was provided free of charge through donations to the Guide Horse Foundation in North Carolina.
But keeping a horse does have some expense, including a miniature barn in the backyard and some fencing. otherwise, she says it's been pretty inexpensive, less than $10-dollars a week.
In Lansdale, SallyAnn Mosey, Channel 6
Action News. Copyright 2004. All Rights Reserved.
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