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autism For Alberto Alvarez-Campos, being part of an organisation like Assistance Dogs Australia and watching well trained assistance dogs go on to improve people’s quality of life is “the best”. Huge rewards A lberto is General Manager, “Over the past two years we have Operations, of the national provided, with our occupational two years’ work by our team, a lot of organisation which places therapists, our Animal Assisted people and our volunteers; it’s huge.” assistance dogs with people with Intervention program for children and autism, post-traumatic stress disorder young adults with autism,” he said. (PTSD), physical and mobility “We are also involved in quality diversities, as well as education research programs with different support dogs for schools. universities looking at the benefits our He said all dogs are placed free of PTSD and autism dogs and Animal charge, despite the fact it costs up to Assisted Interventions are having on $35,000 to train a dog, educate the individuals and their families.” client and look after the dog for the rest of its working life. Alberto has worked with assistance every year, with about 10 to 15 of those dogs being autism assistance dogs. Alberto said there are long waiting lists across the organisation’s services. “We don’t allow our waiting list to get higher than 50 applicants, because that would create a lot of disappointment for people, as people years and said there’s a “compelling would have to wait more than two sense of satisfaction” that goes with years for a dog,” he said. “There is a constant reward, when “As an accredited organisation with Assistance Dogs International, you are able to support the quality we work in close relationship with of training, support the breeding the most innovative programs in program and support the ways we the world, exchanging experiences deliver our services,” he said. and procedures. I am happy to say “But the most important moment autism Assistance Dogs Australia trains between 30 and 35 assistance dogs dogs overseas and in Australia for 36 the job. 26 “It’s the encapsulation of nearly that Assistance Dogs Australia also is when you see a happy dog, well contributes internationally with our established with someone for whom own service delivery innovations.” the dog improves their quality of life Assistance Dogs Australia is … when they are walking away and I a registered charity and does not see the dog with its tail high and it’s receive government funding, instead nice and relaxed, and I see the person relying on public donations to provide smiling, that’s the best. its services. linkonline.com.au