A LITTLE BIT ABOUT OUR HISTORY
Australian Lions Hearing Dogs (ALHD) was initially founded in 1980. The concept of starting the program in Australia originally began with PDG’s Brian Carter and Bob Allen, who had attended an International Lions Convention in the US, during which they’d seen a demonstration from the very first Hearing Dog program in Denver, Colorado. The program was approved in 1980, where the Lions Clubs of Australia and Lions Clubs International Foundation voted to fund the launch of ALHD at the Canberra Multiple District Convention. With funds raised by Clubs across Australia and LCIF, our Training Centre in Verdun was purchased and a trainer, Gale Gold, from the program in the US was brought out for two years to establish the program.
The first Australian Lions Hearing Dog, Amber, was delivered to Margaret Bragg of Para Vista, SA in 1982 with the placement being sponsored by the Lions Club of Edwardstown. Since Amber, over 650 Hearing Assistance Dogs have been placed Australia-wide, a local Lions Club involved with each and every one, and all going to their deaf and hard of hearing recipients free-of-charge.
ALHD continues as a Lion project, delivering Australians who are deaf or hard of hearing a set of ‘furry ears’ free of charge. It is overseen by a Board of volunteer Lions Members from around the country.
The number of our Hearing Assistance Dogs in active service will increase exponentially as we implement our capital expansion program. Our aim within the next ten years of planned growth is to have close to 1,000 dogs in active service at anytime.
In 2020 we started the development of our Medical Alert Dog Program and successfully delivered our first Diabetic Alert dog ‘Sal’.
Australian Lions Hearing Dogs is an accredited member of Assistance Dogs International (ADI). To maintain our membership, ALHD must comply with standards set down by ADI that cover training of both recipients and dogs, animal welfare, administration and more. To maintain ADI accreditation, our compliance is audited by ADI every five years. ALHD remains engaged with the recipient and their dog for the working life of the dog with follow up accreditation visits every two years.
ALHD Major Events & Milestones
The Hearing Dogs Project was brought to Australia by Lions Clubs of Australia from the United States, marking the beginning of Australian Lions Hearing Dogs.
National Training Centre in Verdun, Adelaide Hills officially opens and the first Hearing Assistance Dog trained and delivered is Amber.
Bluey, dog #100 is delivered to a recipient in Queensland.
Incentive based training was introduced, with each dog trained using food or toys to motivate work. This was a great milestone for ALHD, as dogs worked harder for rewards.
Dog #200, Laddie, is delivered to a recipient in Queensland.
As the role of a Hearing Assistance Dog increases, training commences in public spaces to improve each dog’s public behaviour for access rights.
Churchill Fellowship funds study tour of US centres, allowing some training staff from ALHD to attend overseas training centres. The training staff are then able to learn new techniques and ideas, bringing these back to ALHD for improvement.
The Hearing Dogs concept is introduced to New Zealand and Hearing Dogs NZ is started. Jax, dog #300 is delivered to a recipient in Victoria.
Lions International President, Barry Palmer, opens the ALHD Administration Building at the National Training Centre, as the organisation continues to expand.
Quarantine Kennels are built and erected, creating an isolated space for new dog recruits to stay for the safety of all dogs.
ALHD’s 400th dog, Bernie, was delivered to a recipient in Banora Point, NSW.
ALHD delivers 500th dog, Julia, to a recipient in Victoria.
Dog Assessment Program introduced which allows high quality vetting process for each dog passing through training. This means only very high-achieving dogs are welcomed into the Hearing Dog program.
Bill Holmes Award was created to honour past ALHD CEO and National Charman, Bill Holmes OAM. The award is provided to friends of ALHD whose service and contribution to the organisation has exceeded expectation.
ALHD welcomes a new Patron, His Excellency the Honorable Hieu Van Le AC, Governor of South Australia.
The ALHD Puppy Program & Volunteer Program are introduced, providing support to the growing organisation and ensuring supply of dogs for training. The idea for expanding the ALHD National Training Centre was conceived and commenced discussions.
Lions Club of Australian Hearing Dogs was established by staff and friends of ALHD, to further support recipients in financial hardship. Our 600th dog, Jakeb, was delivered to a recipient and family in Victoria.
Launch of Medical Alert Dog Program
Birth of ALHD’s first litter of Assistance Dog puppies.
Welcome new Patron, Mr Rod Bunten.
Delivered Hearing Dog #650.