Who are Support Dogs?
Support have Dogs been training life-changing dogs for adults and children with autism, epilepsy and a number of serious medical conditions since 1992. So this year they’re celebrating 30 years of transforming lives, thanks to the very special partnerships they’ve created between canine and human.
What do they do?
A member of Assistance Dogs UK, Support Dogs is the only charity in the UK to train seizure alert dogs for people with epilepsy. The dogs are trained to provide a 100% reliable, up to 55-minute warning prior to the onset of an epileptic seizure. This enables the client to find safety and be in control of their seizure, allowing a much more independent life.
The charity also trains dogs to work with children with autism. Their autism assistance dogs provide safety for the child, reduce stress in social environments, and provide invaluable canine companionship.
The third training programme on offer is aimed at people with medical conditions and physical disabilities such as arthritis, paraplegia, MS and cerebral palsy. This involves training a client’s pet to become a disability assistance dog and carry out tasks specifically tailored to an individual’s needs, such as opening and closing doors, raising the alarm and dressing and undressing, providing them with greater independence.
They save the NHS money
The care provided by support dogs is estimated to save the NHS £19million a year and a recent survey of its clients showed that the charity’s dogs make a massive positive impact on their lives:
100% said their dog had reduced their care needs and increased their confidence to independently care for themselves.
80% classed their dog as their main aid for managing their condition or their child’s condition
80% said their general health had improve since having a support dog
Support dogs give unwanted pets and rescue dogs a second chance
As well as transforming human lives, Support Dogs maintain high welfare standards and pride themselves on being the charity that gives unwanted pets or dogs from rescue centres a second chance – one in four of our assistance dogs is a rescue dog. The wonderful charity also recently set up their own puppy programme, sourcing puppies from reputable private breeders. None of the dogs-in-training ever spend a night in kennels but are cared for at weekends and in the evening by a small army of volunteer puppy socialisers and foster carers.
We want to do more!
Over the past 30 years demand for the services that support dogs provide, which are provided entirely free of charge, have increased dramatically, and for every dog trained, They receive more than 50 further requests for help. Despite the Covid pandemic leading to longer waits for its services and a drop in income, in 2022 Support Dogs are looking to expand to provide more much-needed help for more desperate families.
Can you help?
Unfortunately, the amazing team do not receive government funding to fund their life-changing work but rely entirely on the generosity of the public through donations and fundraising. From abseils to sky dives and sponsored challenges, from dogs and doughnut days to corporate events and sponsorship, Support Dogs have fundraising opportunities to suit everyone.
For more information about Support Dogs go to www.supportdogs.org.uk
Here are some inspiring stories on how support dogs have provided vital assistance to those in need …
“Support dogs make the unbearable bearable. The dog doesn’t get rid of a long-term disability but makes it endurable in the best possible way.” Disability assistance client Grainne, who has MS, pictured with her support dog Rupert.
“Thunda has made the most incredible difference to Franklin’s life, helping him to calm down when he has a meltdown, and when we go out, making sure he is safe. Boy and dog have a remarkable bond.” Jo, mother of seven-year-old Franklin, pictured with his autism assistance dog Thunda.
“My three dogs have literally saved my life on many occasions. I know for a fact I would not be here if I didn’t have them. Barney now gives me such peace of mind.” Seizure alert client Ann, who has epilepsy, and has had three seizure alert dogs, Shadow, Victor and Barney.