Puppies join cause to assist autistic children

Puppies join cause to assist autistic children
Pictured with volunteer puppy fosterers are Jazz and Jamie, two of the eight Golden Retriever/Labrador cross pups from the first litter of Autism Assistance Dogs Ireland’s (AADI) new breeding programme. Pic: Jenny Griffin at Daisy Chain Photography

A Mallow-based autism support charity has announced the birth of its first litter of puppies.

Autism Assistance Dogs Ireland (ADDI) welcomed eight new golden retriever/labrador cross pups as part of a breeding programme which was started two years ago to tackle the five-year waiting list for children with autism who need a highly-trained assistance dog.

Headquartered in Mallow, Co Cork, AADI is the only Irish charity to breed and train assistance dogs solely for children with autism. It costs €15,000 to provide a fully trained dog, free-of-charge, to a child with autism. AADI relies solely on donations, receiving no funding from the government to breed, train or place these assistance dogs.

The charity, which suspended its waiting list over two years ago, has since received over 800 enquiries. With the success of its new breeding programme, AADI now has ambitious plans to train and place 20 dogs a year.

CEO and founder Nuala Geraghty described the dogs as 'life-changers for children and families.'

To date, AADI has trained and supplied 27 assistance dogs, along with 19 companion dogs, to children with autism.

The new litter of puppies are currently with volunteer Puppy Foster Carers across Munster, who will bring them up for the first 12 months. The dogs will then enter training, before being assigned to families free-of charge. This is in keeping with the charity’s ethos that all children with autism should have equal opportunity to obtain a dog.

AADI relies on volunteers and donations to complete its work.

To donate €4 to AADI, the public can text ‘autism’ to 50300. For more information on how to get involved, become a corporate partner or host an event for AADI, email fundraising@aadi.ie.

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