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Guide Dog Charity Has Huge Surplus

May 13, 1999

SAN RAFAEL, Calif. (AP) _ The charity Guide Dogs for the Blind has accumulated so much money in donations that critics are suggesting it’s time to share the wealth.

While no laws are being violated, most regulators and monitoring organizations don’t like to see charities hoarding large amounts of cash.

The National Charities Information Bureau suggests donors be wary of organizations that have more than two years’ spending in reserve. Guide Dogs has stashed away enough to cover costs for a decade.

``The point is that you shouldn’t be accumulating money ... if you’re not going to spend it,″ bureau spokesman Dan Langan said.

The school is the nation’s premier facility for training dogs to aid the visually impaired and training the new owners to use them, but the money issue is raising questions about how charitable it really is.

Last year, it wound up with more than twice as much money as it needed, spending $21 million with nearly $24 million left over. Guide Dogs has an endowment of some $200 million.

The school says they are protecting themselves against investment problems while predicting a growing enrollment as the population increases.

``This is acting as prudent managers,″ said Richard Graffis, an investment adviser and chairman of the board of Guide Dogs, which was formed in 1942 to aid servicemen blinded during World War II.

The American Federation for the Blind says the nation’s blind population of 1.1 million is growing slowly, and fewer than 10,000 use dogs while 130,000 use the familiar red-tipped white cane.

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