What do Support Dogs do?

Support Dogs is a registered national charity dedicated to increasing independence and quality of life for adults and children with various medical conditions. They provide, train and support specialist assistance dogs to achieve this.

Established in 1992, Support Dogs is a registered charity and provides all its services entirely free of charge to those in need of them. However, the charity relies solely on voluntary donations and receives no government funding. 

Support Dogs are one of the founding members of the UK-wide umbrella group Assistance Dogs UK. ADUK provides a kite-mark of excellence in assistance dog training. All ADUK dogs adhere to the highest training and welfare standards as set out by Assistance Dogs International and the International Guide Dogs Federation.

Whatever the condition and for whatever programme, support dogs are trained to be consistent and reliable in the care they give. Whether that is never missing an epileptic seizure at any hour of the day; being on hand to fetch the medical kit, picking up the phone and finding help when it is needed; or being that reliable focus of support and care that keeps a child safe, and able to access the outside world.

The 24/7 care service Support Dogs provides to all their clients includes training and assessment, to ensure the continuing high level of quality and effectiveness of the support they receive from their support dog.

Support Dogs specialise in three specific programmes:

Autism assistance dogs - for children with autism

The dogs are trained to provide safety for the child and reduce stress in social environments.

Seizure alert dogs - for people with epilepsy

The dogs are trained to provide a 100% reliable, up to 50-minute warning prior to the onset of an epileptic seizure. This enables the client to find safety and be in control over their seizure, allowing a much more independent life.

Disability assistance dogs - for people with physical disabilities

The client's own pet dog is trained to perform tasks which are specifically tailored to their individual needs such as opening and closing doors, raising the alarm, fetching the post, assisting with dressing and undressing, and loading and unloading the washing machine; providing them with greater independence and safety.

Autism Case Study - Sam & Willow

Sam was diagnosed with autism at the age of five. He struggled with noises and crowds and also had severe anxiety and depression. He had to stop going to school and rarely left the house because he would run off and was in danger of harm.

Since autism assistance dog Willow came into his life, she has kept Sam safe and much calmer. The once depressed little boy now smiles a lot, is more confident, and has been able to return to school. Until the black Labrador came along, normal family life was impossible. But now he has the confidence to leave the house to do normal things like going to the shops and the doctor's, and fun activities such as bowling and swimming and previously inaccessible, loud, busy places like Alton Towers.

"Since we've had Willow we've had a massive lifestyle change," says mum Emma. "Willow is always there for Sam, keeping him safe, and having fun with him. They are a perfect match. When Sam has a bad day she goes into the garden and plays with Willow and 20 minutes later he is smiling again.

Epilepsy Case Study - Angie & Ushka

Angie has had epilepsy since the age of 11 as a result of a brain tumour and her seizures continued as she grew up, limiting her independence and making normal life difficult.

For the past 20 years, she has had seizure alert dogs, trained to give her advance warning of a seizure, enabling her to get to a place of safety.

Now Angie, a mother of three young children, is enjoying a successful partnership with her third dog, black Labrador Retriever cross Ushka.

Ushk is with Angie around the clock, keeping her safe, and Iike her first two dogs, giving Angie a 40-minute alert of an oncoming seizure nudging her with her nose and jumping up if she doesn't respond straight away, enabling Angie to get to a safe place to have her seizure.

"I would be lost without Ushka," says Angie. "I have that bond with her that I had with my previous dogs. I wouldn't have a life if I didn't have the dogs. They have made my life normal, and that's all because of Support Dogs."

Disability Case Study - Trish & Tokai

Trish believes her support dog Tokai has not only transformed her own life for the better - but that of her son, who was her carer - too.

Trish has suffered from multiple sclerosis for the past 13 years. Over the years it has progressed and affected her mobility, and she now needs a walking frame.

"Tokai is fantastic," says Trish. "She does so much around the house. Because of my balance, I drop a lot of things and she is always there to pick things up for me; the phone, the post, all sorts. And if there is a problem or I have a fall she barks on demand and alerts my neighbour. I doubt I would go out at all without her."

"As well as being an invaluable support to me, Takai has given my son, who was a young carer, greater independence. He has thrived, and all the things he has done since we got Takai has been down to her. She has changed both our lives."


Stats and Facts*

* Stats relate to 2018

• Support Dogs had 4,536 enquiries from families and individuals across the UK in need of our help.
• Support Dogs provide over 600,000 hours of care a year.
• Support Dogs volunteers donate over 100,000 hours to our work.
• 1 in every 4 support dogs they train originally comes to them from a rescue centre or as an unwanted pet.
• Support Dog's work has an estimated societal saving of at least £18 million a year.
• 100% of Support Dogs resources go to improving the quality of life of more families affected by challenging medical conditions.

Support Dogs need your help.

For more information or to speak about how you can improve the lives of many more people please get in touch:

0114 2617800

[email protected]



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