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Autism Assistance - UK first for Support Dogs

Sheffield based Support Dogs, one of the UK’s leading charities dedicated to training assistance dogs, has launched a £1 million appeal to help it to introduce a unique national initiative to provide dogs specially trained to help children with Autism.

This programme is the first of its kind in mainland UK and over the next four years, if it reaches its £1 million target, the charity will be able to help hundreds of people affected by Autism.

Paula, Joe and LaceySupport Dogs has already trained the UK’s first Autism Assistance Dog with the support of Irish Guide Dogs, which has run a successful programme in Ireland for over three years. Lacey (a yellow Labrador) has been partnered with Paula Craik and her five year old son Joe (who live in Dundee) and in the last year has made a tremendous difference to their lives. Following on from this success, the charity now plans to make this life changing initiative available to families across the UK.

It is estimated that over 500,000 people in the UK are affected by Autism, a lifelong developmental disability that affects the way a person communicates and relates to the people around them. Over 72,000 of these are children between the ages of three and 10 years old who could benefit from a specially trained Autism Assistance Dog.

The Autism Assistance Dogs programme is totally free of charge to all applicants however Support Dogs receives no government funding and relies on donations and bequests to fund its life transforming work.

Support Dogs will be at Crufts at the NEC, Birmingham 6th – 9th March 2008 (Hall 2 Stand 62) for enquiries and to accept donations to the Autism Assistance Appeal.

The Autism Assistance Dogs enquiry line will be available from Monday 10th March 2008 on: 0114-261 7800. For more information about Support Dogs visit: