A LIMERICK woman is encouraging people in the city and county to consider fostering puppies to be trained as Autism Assistance Dogs.
Michelle McCaffrey, whose family has been fostering puppies for Autism Assistance Dogs Ireland (AADI) for over five years, says that they have seen first hand the difference the dogs make to a child’s life and that of their family.
“We have always loved fostering the puppies and watching them progress through the training, guiding them along the way. To see a dog we fostered with their child and family just fills us with pride and love for these incredible superheroes.
“It drives you on as a fosterer to try and help get more incredible dogs out to children waiting for their own superheroes,” Michelle added.
AADI Volunteer Support Officer Sarah Buckley said that they are in urgent need of foster families to help care for their puppies.
“We cover all costs including veterinary fees, and food and equipment are provided,” she explained.
“Every puppy is reared and socialised by a loving volunteer puppy foster family for the first 12 to 15 months of their training journey. This is a vital role to our service providing a solid foundation for our puppies before their formal training. Every puppy we train works hard to change the world for a child with autism.
“Our mission is to change the world for children with autism by offering children suffering with debilitating symptoms of autism the opportunity to reach their full potential. As well as providing life changing autism assistance dogs, we are committed to raising autism awareness, understanding and inclusion within the community.
“We don’t charge for our assistance dogs and are entirely supported by public donations, fundraising and volunteers.
“Each qualified assistance dog is trained to keep their child companion safe when out and about. The child is attached to the dog by a belt and can hold the handle on the dog’s jacket. The dog will hold position if the child attempts to bolt or run away. They can also help reduce anxiety by easing transition into place that the child would otherwise find stressful. They really are superheroes!” she said.
AADI is hosting a webinar for potential puppy fosterers to ask questions and meet their puppy supervisors at 3pm on Friday, January 28 at 3pm and on Thursday, February 24 at 3pm.
Check out their Facebook page for more details or email [email protected]