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Hamilton Metro News - - FRONT PAGE -

As­sis­tance Dogs New Zealand (ADNZ) breeds, raises and trains as­sis­tance dogs for adults and chil­dren with a range of dis­abil­i­ties.

They in­clude autism spec­trum dis­or­der, Down syn­drome, cere­bral palsy, mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis, di­a­betes, de­vel­op­men­tal de­lay syn­dromes, se­vere anx­i­ety, head in­juries, post trau­matic stress dis­or­der and phys­i­cal dis­abil­i­ties.

The or­gan­i­sa­tion trains as­sis­tance dogs for most dis­abil­i­ties and mul­ti­ple dis­abil­i­ties in adults and chil­dren.

Ninety per cent of their as­sis­tance dogs are trained to sup­port chil­dren from age four to 17 years of age with autism spec­trum dis­or­der, or chil­dren with de­vel­op­men­tal de­lay syn­dromes with autism-like traits. Many of these chil­dren have com­plex needs and mul­ti­ple dis­abil­i­ties that the as­sis­tance dogs are trained to sup­port as part of their role.

As­sis­tance Dogs New Zealand tai­lors the train­ing of as­sis­tance dogs to meet the unique needs of the client, fam­ily and their dis­abil­i­ties.

For ADNZ to train and place a range of as­sis­tance dogs to meet the de­mand of more than 70 fam­i­lies on the wait­ing list, the group needs to breed and raise around 20 pup­pies a year.

The cost to raise a puppy in­volves dog food, vet­eri­nary care, train­ing equip­ment like col­lars, leashes, food bowls, ID medal­lions and ser­vice dog jack­ets to al­low the pup­pies into many pub­lic places to so­cialise for their fu­ture role.

ADNZ’s pup­pies re­quire fort­nightly vis­its from the puppy devel­op­ment su­per­vi­sor to sup­port the pup­pies and their puppy-raising fam­i­lies as they work through com­mon puppy be­havioural is­sues.

Pup­pies eat a lot, grow very quickly and out­grow col­lars, puppy jack­ets and may even need two leads ( if they chew one), as well as re­quir­ing reg­u­lar ob­ser­va­tion and re­port­ing by trained staff to en­sure they are pro­gress­ing well to be­come fu­ture as­sis­tance dogs.

As a reg­is­tered char­i­ta­ble trust these costs im­pact heav­ily on ADNZ’s fundrais­ing each year. It costs $ 6500 to breed and raise one puppy from eight weeks to 14 months, and the group re­lies heav­ily on the gen­eros­ity of puppy spon­sors to sup­port the pup­pies in train­ing.

The Gifted Puppy Spon­sor­ship Pro­gramme is a way for kiwi fam­i­lies to sup­port a cause that sup­ports cute pup­pies and vul­ner­a­ble kiwi kids.

For $ 5 a week or $ 20 a month, donors can im­prove the life of a child with a dis­abil­ity. The $ 20 a month can sup­port pup­pies like Ruby and Ranger to be­come as­sis­tance dogs for an adult or child with a dis­abil­ity. The pup­pies are placed with vol­un­teer puppy rais­ers from eight weeks through to 12 to 14 months of age. This is an im­por­tant and vi­tal stage for the pup­pies to re­ceive ba­sic train­ing in a lov­ing home while giv­ing them the op­por­tu­nity to have fun and be play­ful pup­pies too.

More im­por­tantly, the ADNZ pup­pies need to re­ceive daily so­cial­i­sa­tion in a range of dif­fer­ent sit­u­a­tions like su­per­mar­kets, cafes, doc­tor’s surg­eries, shop­ping malls, movie the­atres and en­vi­ron­ments like the city, in heavy traf­fic and in res­i­den­tial areas which have other dogs and

the day- to- day dis­trac­tions of ev­ery­day life.

ADNZ pre­dom­i­nantly breeds both labradors and golden re­triev­ers, and cross- breed these two breeds to pro­duce the range of tem­per­a­ment and type to

meet the unique needs of many dif­fer­ent dis­abil­i­ties and client fam­i­lies. Oc­ca­sion­ally, the or­gan­i­sa­tion may need to buy a labradoo­dle puppy if a child is al­ler­gic to dogs, but also re­quires an as­sis­tance dog.

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