Snow traps blind Spokane couple at home - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Snow traps blind Spokane couple at home

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SPOKANE, Wash. -

For some people in our community, the snow isn't just annoying, it's debilitating.

In some cases, it's trapping people in their homes -- and the tough part is there's no easy solution to the problem.

Ryan and Katie Strickland live in north Spokane near Wedgewood and Colton.

They're both blind, and they have seeing-eye dogs that guide them around and to work a few blocks away, but right now, that's not really possible. 

"It's gotten to the point where the sidewalks are just dangerous," Katie Strickland explained. "They're hazardous, there's virtually no sidewalk to walk on at all."

Beyond the danger of slipping and falling on the snow and ice, when their guide dogs can't safely navigate, neither can they.

"Our guides' job is to get us safely around obstacles," Strickland said. "And when they start seeing snow chunks and everything is an obstacle, it becomes a problem."

The dogs are trained to stop at the street curb, but when snow is covering it, they can't. It's making any walk nearly impossible -- whether it's walking down the street, to a bus stop, or even their daily route to work.

"It's the safest route at this point," explained Ryan Strickland. "But even the safest route is not the safest route."

Because the plows dump so much snow on the sidewalks, the Stricklands no longer feel safe leaving home. Even when they do, the snow and ice gets tough on their dogs' paws.

If the dogs get hurt, that leads to veterinary bills, and a guide dog that can't work. If the dogs can't work, the Strickland's option would be using canes -- which they say are even worse for getting around in these conditions.

"It's not been a fun winter," Katie said. "We've lost a lot of independence. Anything we can have delivered, we've had delivered, because we can't go anywhere."

Unfortunately there aren't any services in Spokane that can come fix this issue for free. The Stricklands say they're left hoping someone will help them -- and others in similar situations -- out.

If you know someone who's visually impaired, disabled, or just needs some help clearing a path, now could be your chance to #ShareAShovel, and lend a hand.

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