A charity which teaches dogs to help children with autism and adults with epilepsy is set to train 12 new puppies this year.
Sheffield-based charity Support Dogs wants to help even more people, and will be training 12 eight-week puppies over the next year - but they need help.
It’s looking for local people to take care of the puppies while they training to become assistance dogs.
They will be known as puppy socialisers, and will be expected to be at home for most of the day to dedicate their time to training and raising a puppy and attend regular group obedience classes. They must also live within an hour’s drive of Sheffield.
The puppies will need to be looked after for up to 15 months before they embark on their full training.
Support Dogs’ chief executive Rita Howson said: “Just loving cute puppies is not enough. Potential puppy socialisers will have to be prepared to put in some hard work, cope with typical puppy behaviour and are committed to meeting the puppy’s physical and mental needs.”
The move is in response to a huge increase in demand for its services and for its life-changing support dogs.
Rita added: “Support Dogs received more than 3,500 requests for its services in the past year from individuals and families in need. This is double the previous year.
“We’re training more dogs than ever before but even so we can’t meet demand, so we hope this new puppy scheme will help us bridge that gap,”
In the past, Support Dogs has recruited prospective assistance dogs between the ages of 10 and 18 months from a variety of sources including other assistance dogs UK charities, rescue centres, council dog pounds, and unwanted pets.
However, they are not finding enough suitable dogs so the puppies will help the charity meet the current demand.
Support Dogs is also recruiting for a full-time puppy co-ordinator to its training team who will be responsible for choosing puppies and providing a structured training programme.
Support Dogs is running an open day for prospective puppy socialisers at its training centre on 800 Brightside Lane, Brightside on Wednesday January 10.
Contact Support Dogs on 0114 2617800 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.