The Compass Institute assistance dog program operations manager Phil Brocklehurst with Caddy.
The Compass Institute assistance dog program operations manager Phil Brocklehurst with Caddy.

Gympie called to help raise pups for kids with autism

SUNSHINE Coast-based charity The Compass Institute has extended its assistance dog program to Gympie, in good news for lovers of doggos and puppers alike.

MORE: Put your paw up to raise pups for kids with autism

The program looks for puppy raisers keep their companions on a short leash for about 12 months before they graduate to formal training and are eventually gifted to young children with autism.

The Compass Institute assistance dog program operations manager Phil Brocklehurst with Caddy.
The Compass Institute assistance dog program operations manager Phil Brocklehurst with Caddy.

The kicker is that the puppies come at absolutely no cost to those keen to raise them. Assistance dog operations manager Phil Brocklehurst said Gympie was a town of untapped potential for the initiative.

“The big thing that sets us apart … is that we don’t charge the recipients for the dogs, we gift them to them. We go to local businesses and individuals to sponsor these dogs so we can then gift the dogs to the recipients,” Mr Brocklehurst said.

“What we’re really after now is puppy raisers, and Gympie is an area we’ve not tapped into at all, what we’d like is for people to put their hands up and say they will raise a pup for us.

“The big thing is, they need to be able to take the dog to work with them, or if they go to the cinema or the shopping centre or a cafe.

“There’s no dollar cost to them, we cover all the costs with the food, the vet bills.”

He said the Compass model meant families looking for assistance dogs also went without the financial burden.

“If you need an assistance dog for your child there are services out there, but they charge $25,000 to $30,000 for the dog,” he said.

“Raising a child with a disability can be really demanding on your time, so typically at least one of the parents can’t work, and asking for that money is an unattainable figure.

“We decided to employ a different model by going to local businesses and having very generous individuals who have paid for dogs. We’ve been very lucky.

“The benefit you see with the kids is massive. I’ve placed dogs with clients who won’t make eye contact, they’ll hide behind their mother, and then three months later you go back and they come out to high five you.”

Compass are on the lookout for potential future clients, as well as sponsors and puppy raisers, in the Gympie region.

Head to the Compass Assistance Dogs website for more information.