Dogs for the Disabled

Dogs for the Disabled improves the lives of children and adults living with physical disabilities in Ireland. Comprised mainly of volunteers, they receive no government funding to provide their service.

As human beings, we all need people to help each other. With help from The Ireland Funds, we’re definitely making dreams possible for people in Ireland.”

— Jennifer Dowler, Dogs for the Disabled Co-Founder

Assistance dogs are specially trained to assist physically disabled children and adults to carry out a range of practical tasks in order to achieve greater independence. Every dog is trained to help with simple everyday tasks such as opening/closing doors, picking up dropped items, emptying the washing machine, sending for help or even helping a child with severe walking difficulties to walk with greater ease and balance. Each dog is trained to cater for the needs of the specific client to enable them to live life with greater independence.

“The Ireland Funds have been huge to our charity,” explains Jennifer Dowler, Co-Founder of Dogs for the Disabled. “We wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for The Ireland Funds. In those early years the funding was so critical because there was nothing else coming in. It’s been a great relationship. Most recently, The Ireland Funds have supported our adult programs. This is key because often adults don’t attract the same attention as little kids do. Yet there are adults that really need dogs.”

Dogs are bred and raised by volunteer foster families before receiving intense training. Dogs for the Disabled also trains local prisoners to work with the dogs over a period of 3-4 months, a program which has received accolades and has resulted in positive outcomes. Each dog costs €15,000 to train and all dogs and families are carefully assessed to establish an ideal match. The waiting list for Dogs for the Disabled is 3-5 years. So far they have proudly matched over 120 dogs with families across Ireland.