DOGS for the Disabled was set up in 2007. Our mission is to enhance the quality of life of children and adults who live with physical disabilities in Ireland. We provide fully trained assistance dogs, free of charge, to help in everyday activities.
One of the programmes we are currently running is designed to assist children with cerebral palsy, or similar conditions, to walk with the aid of our stability assistance dogs.
Huge progress has been made in getting these children walking and increasing the possibilities of keeping them walking into adulthood.
All over the country we have a growing number of children now walking because of stability assistance dogs.
Wheelchair users, after receiving one of our assistance dogs, experience a greater sense of independence and confidence, because they no longer have to ask for help with basic tasks they cannot do themselves, such as retrieving dropped items, getting dressed or turning on the light etc.
Eighty-five per cent of our applicants are children aged between six and 12 years old, who are living with severe physical disabilities which impact on every aspect of their lives. We also help adult wheelchair users living alone.
Our stability dogs are specially trained to help children walk and negotiate obstacles, such as kerbs, or even getting to their feet.
We don't receive any government funding, and don't have any corporate partners, so any money raised has to go on everything from collars, leads and dog food to veterinary care and residential training for our applicants with their new assistance dog.
The Flora Women's Mini Marathon is very important to Dogs for the Disabled. It is one of our main sources of income and without this means of generating critical additional funding we would struggle to exist.
Jennifer Dowler, CEO of Dogs for the Disabled For more information on Dogs for the Disabled, go to www. dogsfordisabled.ie