How it all started
“Mum, I can do anything with this dog by my side!’ It was these words, spoken by a young girl in a wheelchair in the USA over 20 years that forever changed the life of Hannie and Robert Biggs OAM, and of countless families across Australia.
During a trip to California, the animal-loving couple visited Canine Companions for Independence, a charity that places Assistance Dogs with people living with physical disabilities. Watching the joy and happiness that an Assistance Dog brought to the girl was a pivotal experience for Hannie. “To this day, I get goose bumps whenever I think about that moment. On the plane home to Australia, I turned to my husband and said, ‘This is something we have to do’.”
And so Assistance Dogs Australia was born. With 1 in 5 people living in Australia with a disability, Hannie and Robert saw a need for specially-trained four-legged friends. Today, Assistance Dogs Australia has maintained its family values, with Hannie, Robert and their sons Andrew and Gavin, still passionately involved with the organisation.
We share a very special bond with dogs.
For thousands of years we’ve looked after each other physically and emotionally. We’ve benefited from each other’s existence, and become best mates in the process.
Our needs are considerably different to our early days with dogs, but one thing has never changed – our need for each other makes this world a better place for all of us.
Our bond with dogs is most special when one of us is in need. Whether it’s a pet providing companionship, or a support dog for people with disabilities, our canine friends always come through for us.
Founded in 1996, Assistance Dogs Australia trains and places unique dogs with Australians in unique situations. We currently train dogs that specialise in support for people with a physical disability, autism or PTSD. As well as providing a range of services to these individuals and their families.
Our free-to-client assistance dogs provide Independence, self-esteem, improved health and relationships to individuals and families – resulting in stronger and more successful communities.
We continue to set new benchmarks of success in training and placement. Our dedication to training and placement is what keeps us going, but it’s also an incredibly expensive endeavour, and we rely solely on donations from the public. Tens of thousands of dollars are required for the training and placement of a single dog.
Assistance Dogs Australia is proud to be a trailblazer when it comes to the range of tasks our dogs can perform and the services we have introduced over the past several years.
There are many ways you can help. In addition to regular donations, maybe your workplace would like to get behind sponsoring one of these very special animals? Perhaps a community fundraiser, or even a crowdfunding campaign? If you’d like more information on how to get involved with any of these methods, please get in touch.
Why we need your support
Our dogs are placed completely free of charge with clients across Australia. It takes two years to train and costs over $35,000 to provide a qualified Assistance Dog. This covers all training, food, veterinary treatment, kennelling costs and placement with a client.
As we receive no government funding, we rely solely on the generosity and philanthropy of individuals and organisations.
We have over 140 people on our waiting list, with an estimated waiting time of up to two years to receive a dog.
In addition to training dogs, we provide a number of services free of charge to the community including the PAWS program (Parents Autism Workshops and Support). Community donations and funding from corporate and philanthropic organisations allows us to continue to provide these services free of charge to the community.
Assistance Dogs Australia
- Places Assistance Dogs with people with disabilities free of charge.
- Offers a lifetime of support to our clients.
- Ensures that Assistance Dogs are trained to the highest standard to offer the most help they can.
- Is a registered charity that does not receive government funding and relies on the generosity of the public to provide its valuable services to the broader community.
- Is accredited by Assistance Dogs International.
- Has DGR (deductible gift recipient) 1 status.
Each Assistance Dog costs $35,000 to train
This includes everything from purchasing a puppy, to food, vaccinations, training & placement. Our Assistance Dogs are provided free of charge to people in need.