Assistance Dogs NZ Trust are set to get two new puppies available for people with neuro disabilities.
The 14-week-old puppies are coming from Australia, and will be the first new additions since the COVID lockdown in March last year.
Fundraising and Communications Manager Alex Williams says they can’t wait.
“It’s very exciting. It’s an exciting part of the year for the team.”
The puppies will land in Auckland at the end of the month.
The organisation have a large Bay of Plenty presence, with 20 per cent of the puppies-in-training, clients and staff based in the region.
The dogs will live with volunteer puppy raiser families until they are around 12-18 months old when they will complete formal training for six-months.
They will then be assessed and paired with someone with a disability.
Alex says normally the puppies are bred in New Zealand in their breeding programme, however, because of COVID as a ‘one-off’ they were coming from Australia.
But this is just scratching the surface of the high demand and more than five-year wait list for a puppy.
This is due to a funding shortfall, as the service dogs cost around $75,000 each for training and support throughout its working life.
They normally have between 2-3 litters born a year.
Around eight dogs graduate annually, but Alex says they’d need 12 dogs graduating per year to keep up with demand.
To help with the costs, those who are approved for a service dog are requested to fundraise around $20,000 as a donation.
All of the trusts costs come from donations.
The cost of the puppies pays for things such as breeding, puppy development, full-time dog trainers, and assessments.
The association is hoping to have another litter from Papamoa in April.