Assistance Dogs & Animal Outreach

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Kotuku Foundation Assistance Animals Aotearoa - Dogs for Disabilities - People for Pets

We strive for excellence in all we do to fulfil our raison d'etre which is to assist those (both animal and human) who would otherwise not be helped.  To this end, our primary focus is on the sourcing, training and placing of disability assistance dogs for any medically-diagnosed impairment that a professionally trained dog can mitigate.  This includes (but is not limited to):

Addison’s Disease, Agoraphobia, Anaphylaxis, Autism, Bipolar Disorder, Diabetes, Dissociative Disorder, Head Injury, Major Depression, Narcolepsy, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Panic Disorder, Parkinson’s Disease, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Schizophrenia and Social Anxiety Disorder.

We are also heavily involved on a nation-wide basis with the field of Animal Assisted Intervention (AAI) which embraces both Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) and Animal Assisted Activities (AAA).  We conducted a world-first pilot project in conjunction with Women's Refuge and Greyhounds As Pets (GAP) last year.  You can learn more about this here.

We are the only organisation in NZ (and one of only two in Australasia) to hold full membership of Animal Assisted Intervention International (AAII), an umbrella group established to set guidelines and standards of excellence for those involved in this emerging but invaluable field.  Membership criteria are necessarily stringent and KFAAA personnel are therefore proud to have met and exceeded these for the benefit of all we work with.  You can view the member directory here.

Wherever possible we seek to collaborate and co-operate with other organisations in order to best assist those we were established to serve.  A prime example of this is our commitment to source our dogs from existing populations, rather than engage in redundant and expensive breeding programmes, which research and practice have demonstrated only have a 50% success rate at best.  This means with every litter bred, more dogs are produced that will ultimately need re-homing or 'career changing', when there are already many dogs in our society in this situation which could be utilised.

We have successfully worked alongside the NZ Police Dog Training Centre and GAP to retrain dogs from each in need of a new 'leash on life' and continue to form relationships with other sources of potentially suitable dogs for our specialised field.  You can learn more about our collaboration with the NZPDTC here 

Contact Merenia - 
Mobile (021) 298 4741
Email -

Mobility Dogs

The Mobility Assistance Dogs Trust was created to enhance the lives of people living with physical disabilities by increasing independence, confidence, self-esteem and participation in New Zealand communities.
Mobility dogs are partnered with people living with long term physical disabilities including cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy and spinal cord injuries. 

Mobility Assistance Dogs Trust now provides three categories of Mobility Dog;

  1. A Service Dog provides support both in the home environment and out in the community with full public access rights.   
  2. An Assist Dog provides support at home, and public access is managed by a facilitator.  
  3. A Skilled Companion Dog provides the support of a highly skilled pet and mitigates at least three aspects of disability.  

In addition to dogs trained for individual placement, Mobility Dogs also has a Facility Dog trained to assist a therapist working with a client in a rehabilitative setting and four Ambassadogs – Chance, Hugo, Elsa and Fleur – who work to raise awareness of the invaluable work of Mobility Dogs.

Our dogs add immeasurable value to the lives of people living with physical disabilities, their families and the wider community, increasing their independence, confidence and self-esteem. 

According to recipient needs, dogs may be trained to perform tasks such as:
  • fetching the phone
  • retrieving dropped items or items out of reach
  • barking for help
  • opening doors
  • pressing lift and pedestrian button crossing buttons
  • paying for purchases across the counter
  • taking shoes and socks off
  • switching lights on and off
  • loading and unlaoding washing machines and driers
  • carrying items in a backpack
  • delivering items from one person to another
  • depositing rubbish into bins
  • opening and closing cupboards and drawers
  • towing a manual wheelchair
  • assisting with transfers to/from a wheelchair
These tasks sit alongside the companionship, greater sense of security and feeling of connectedness to the community that a dog offers.
Applying for a Mobility Dog

If you are interested in finding out more about how to apply for a Mobility Dog please contact our Client Services Coordinator, Michelle Smith, and she will be very happy to answer your queries and provide you with an information pack.

Phone: 027 700 7018      

Contact details:

Facebook: Mobility Assistance Dogs Trust
Twitter: @mobilitydogs

NZ Epilepsy Assist Dog Trust

The NZ Epilepsy Assist Dogs Trust was formed when it became understood that dogs can help people with severe epilepsy to lead a safer and more independant life.

NZ is one of three countries in the world to have such an association.

Our well trained dogs have full public access (under the Dog Control Act 1996) and assist their recipients lead a happier and safer life both at home and in public places.  

NZEADT is committed to providing an excellent service to our recipients by matching the dog to the person and providing professional one to one training.   Recipients receive regular follow-up for the life of their dog, once the dog/recipient team has graduated to ensure that their needs are being met and to continue assisting them with any further training requirements

Dogs can help people with epilepsy by:
  • becoming a companion
  • becoming aware of impending seizures and alerting owner
  • allowing owner to feel safe
  • helping owner to be more independant
The criteria for owning a Seizure Assist Dog:
  • Must meet dog ownership requirements
  • must be over 12 years of age
  • must have frequent seizures
Training takes two years:
  • Dog and owner are visited twice weekly by the trainer
  • Owner is instructed in daily training schedule

NZ Epilepsy Assist Dogs Trust Training Standards
NZEADT trains dogs to a high standard for the benefit and wellbeing of the recipient, the general public and the dog.  

As a minimum we use the following national and international organisations guidelines:
  • Assistance Dogs International Inc
  • Animal Welfare (Dogs) Code of Welfare 2010
  • International Association of Assistance Dog Partners
While all our dogs have full public access under the Dog Control Act 1996 and are allowed to accompany the recipient, trainer or foster carer in all areas normally disallowed by dogs, the dogs must be wearing an official NZEADT coat and the person must carry NZEADT identification.

To see whether you qualify, click here

You can also download the application form at the bottom of this page.

Contact the NZ Epilepsy Assist Dogs Trust to discuss getting a dog or for more information. 

Phone:  09 412 8862       

Outreach Therapy Pets

Outreach Therapy Pets is a joint initiative of St John in association with SPCA Auckland and currently operates in Auckland.
The programme involves pets and people who visit rest homes, hospitals and other establishments to bring comfort to residents and patients.

International research has shown that interaction with animals can provide a variety of health benefits.

Animals can have a therapeutic and calming affect on people that reduce the stress and fears associated with illness or age. 

Animals can bring:
  • A non-judgemental relationship with people of all ages
  • An acceptance of human ailments, frailties, handicaps and confusion
  • Unconditional love and friendship
Outreach Therapy Pets utilises the combined strengths of St John and SPCA Auckland, harnessing the skills of both in the delivery of care through people and animals.

The programme currently has more than 100 volunteers who regularly visit rest homes, private hospitals and other facilities in the Auckland area.

To find out more about Outreach Therapy Pets fill in this request form or

Contact us:

Freephone 0800 780 780 
Phone 09 5260527 

Riding for the Disabled

Riding for the Disabled caters for people of all agesand takes referrals from therapists, doctors, specialists, other health professionals, teachers and caregivers, as well as parents and riders themselves.

We help with those physically challenged with cerebral palsy, spina bifida, paraplegia, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, traumatic brain injury, stroke or those with a visual or hearing impairment. We also cater for those with intellectual disabilities, multiple disabilities and learning disabilities.

Benefits of Riding
Our Riders attend riding to achieve a specific goal, whether it is therapeutic, educational or sporting. 

Riding develops, improves and promotes:
  • Balance and coordination, posture and muscle tone
  • Concentration, self discipline and self-esteem
  • Perception and spatial awareness
  • Communication and social skills
  • Independence and encourages decision making
To find a list of all groups participating, click here.


Phone: 04 234 6090 or 04 234 6091      

Kate Johns,
Mar 21, 2012, 8:16 PM