MEET the Founders
- Assistance Dog Trainer
- Assistance Dog Trainer
- Hearing Dog Trainer
In the mid 1990’s Craig and Tracey Murray (Dog Trainers) were approached friends to see if they would be able to train a dog to indicate when their baby was going to have a seizure. Their baby was having multiple seizures a day and the family were trying to do anything and everything they could to help their child. They had heard about dogs in the USA which had been trained for persons with disabilities that have seizures and they were hoping that Craig and Tracey could train a dog to help their child. Assistance dogs were pretty much unheard of within Australia at that time. By the time Craig and Tracey researched the required information needed to train a dog, it was too late, and the little baby had lost his battle. This was heartbreaking but it only served to inspire Craig and Tracey to further their education into Assistance Dogs.
Craig & Tracey worked through training dogs and placing them with persons with disabilities as best they knew how until they were able to afford to send Craig to NEADS (National Education for Assistance Dog Services) in the USA in 2002. This formal education was sought after more so to teach Craig how to partner a dog with a disabled handler. It’s a totally different experience to transition a dog across to a person with a disability than it is to do the initial training of the dog. The world of disability is so broad so each assistance dog must be trained to the individual needs of the handler. Having this learning experience enabled Craig and Tracey to provide a much more individualised transition for their clients.
Fast forward and the Qld. Government bought in the Guide, Hearing and Assistance Dog Act 2009. This Act encompassed all three types of service dogs under the one Act – Guide Dogs, Hearing Dogs and Assistance Dogs. Craig and Tracey were part of the advisory stakeholder group for the government whilst they were constructing the legislation and were in fact the first Assistance Dog Trainers certified within Australia.
At that time, you could apply to gain certification as either an individual trainer or a training organisation (charity). Both Craig and Tracey applied for certification as individual trainers and remained that way until they founded Empower Assistance Dogs in 2016. By founding the Charity, they have been able to grow their services to help more people by implementing a breeding program, puppy raising program, school raising and training program, therapy dog team and in 2020 they have commenced a new ‘Owner Coached Assistance Dog Program’.
Our vision is to be able to provide government certified, high quality, reliable, well-bred dogs from proven bloodstock to limit the possibility of placing dogs that if they were not from high quality reliable bloodstock could have questionable temperaments or genetics causing health problems or longevity problems for placement with vulnerable people. We are focused on constantly upgrading, educating ourselves to build our brand which is Empower Assistance Dogs to be easily recognisable to persons whom work in disability services providing support and access for persons with disabilities and to ensure that individuals seeking advice, help or support or actual dogs are also able to easily recognise and access Empower Assistance Dogs.
Our purposes for gaining certification in all three types of service dogs (Guide, Hearing and Assistance) was to ensure that we could fill the void that currently exists for persons whom have multiple disabilities e.g. Hearing and Assistance or Guide and Assistance so that they can also access dogs that are trained across multiple genres of service dogs. This at present is almost completely unavailable due to most organisations either not being certified for all three or not being willing to train dogs on more than one service dog facet.
Our values are bred from having high quality service in all forms of our dog training business and being seen as Industry leaders utilised by governments, large corporations and private individuals whom wanted honest, reliable working dogs. We initially started training assistance dogs long before Empower Assistance Dogs via way of many people approaching us for help and us going overseas to get formal education which was not available within Australia to ensure that we had best practice for perspective clients to be guaranteed that they would be receiving quality and reliable knowledge, experience, services and dogs.
The purpose of this not-for-profit charity is to provide professionally trained government certified assistance dogs to persons with disabilities to enhance independence and quality of life. The funds raised go towards breeding, raising and training the dogs to then be placed with disabled recipients and certified under the Qld Government Guide, Hearing and Assistance Dog Act 2009.
In 2009 the Queensland Government introduced the new Guide, Hearing and Assistance Dog Act which endeavours to work in with the Federal Disability Discrimination Act and it’s amendments. This means for Guide, Hearing or Assistance Dog owners that regardless of whether the dog was professionally trained or owner trained, all dogs and handlers will have to go through and pass a Public Access Test and ensure their dog has been trained to do three tasks that assist the handler. Under the Act, Trainers have to be Certified through the government, and then they can carry out the Public Access Test on dogs and handlers. A dog and handler whom have passed will be issued an identification card and special badge for the dog’s jacket or harness. Empower assistance dogs now has six government Certified Guide, Hearing and Assistance Dog Trainers. We were the very first individual trainers to pass and we were the first organisation to be certified to train all three types of service dogs (Guide, Hearing and Assistance Dogs) and therefore we are able to certify dogs and handlers.
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