Our dogs are treated with the utmost care, and are considered part of our family. We use very high quality food and are constantly mindful of their health and well-being. Their sleeping kennels and bedding are thoroughly cleaned on a daily basis, ensuring their hygiene is kept to a high standard. The kennel area is air-conditioned, keeping their temperature regulated and comfortable during times of extreme weather. During the day when they’re having breaks from training, they get to play unhindered with a small group of their “friends” in one of our several yards, and regularly have fun and stimulation in our enrichment space with volunteers who play a variety of food-scavenging games. Our trainers take them on daily walks and runs in our secure paddocks; it’s not all hard work for a Hearing Assistance Dog.
Australian Lions Hearing Dogs are accredited by Assistance Dogs International (ADI) and have the same access rights as guide dogs for the blind. Our dogs are easily identified by their bright orange collars and leads. They may also be wearing an orange jacket with a Lions Hearing Dog logo. This makes it easy for business owners, public transport workers and the general public to identify them.
Dog owners must also carry an identification card that proves that their dog is a genuine Hearing Dog. If you’re in doubt, you are welcome to ask to see the card. You are also welcome to phone us to confirm a dog’s authenticity.
By law, Hearing Assistance Dogs and their owners must be given access to every public place that people without dogs can go, with only a few special exclusions such as burns units in hospitals, commercial kitchens where food is being prepared, and surgical units where scrubs are required. Severe penalties, in some states up to $50,000, can apply to anyone who denies access to a Hearing Assistance Dog. It is also an offence to attempt to pass a pet dog off as a Hearing Assistance Dog.
At 95%, our success rate is very high compared with many other Assistance Dog organisations. By the end of each delivery, it has cost Australian Lions Hearing Dogs approximately $37,000 to provide the dog to a Deaf or hard of hearing person. It is important that we maintain this level of placement success both from the financial perspective and also in consideration of the emotional impact on a new recipient who has become attached.
It is very rare that a dog, once placed, doesn’t pass and maintain its full accreditation. Occasionally a dog simply doesn’t adjust to the training and kennel situation and therefore may not become a Hearing Assistance Dog.
Our mission is to find a new life for all our dogs whether they pass the Hearing Assistance Dog training or not. There are no ‘failures’— very rarely though some dogs are just not suited to the special role they have to play as Hearing Dogs. We call these dogs “lovable dropouts”, and we soon find homes for them as much-loved (and very well-trained) pets.