for further information
MAD Assistance Dog Team = Handler and Dog
Assistance Dogs NSW = ADNSW
Miracle Assistance Dogs = MAD
Pre-Public Access test = MAD Pre-PAT
Public Access Test = PAT
What is a Miracle Assistance Dog?
A Miracle Assistance Dog is trained to a high standard of obedience, and to provide specialised physical assistance to a person who is living with disability. A MAD Dog and its recipient complete a Public Access Test together. When a MAD Assistance Dog Team successfully completes the PAT they will be provided a MAD Dog coat and MAD Licence.
This enables them to visit public places as a working Assistance Dog Team. This includes public places, public passenger vehicles and places of accommodation. Please note that in NSW a Public Transport Pass must be applied for.
Tasks that the dog can perform are ones which an individual is not able to perform themselves i.e. Opening and closing cupboards, doors and drawers; alerting to medical conditions; support following medical conditions; retrieving items and much more.
What is a Miracle Therapy Dog?
A Miracle Therapy Dog satisfies all of the requirements of an Assistance Dog as stated above, except no Public Access is provided. These dogs are often not required to be trained to as high a level of obedience. Therefore, they may be able to be provided while the dog is younger.
What is a Miracle Facility Dog?
A Miracle Facility Dog is similar to a Therapy Dog and does not have Public Access because they work within a facility. One person within the facility takes responsibility for the dog’s welfare and ongoing training. The dog will often live with that person in-between shifts at the facility. Facilities may include; special needs schools, refuge centres, retirement villages and some aged care facilities.
Who is eligible to apply for a Miracle Assistance Dog?
Anyone with a disability where a dog is able to perform a physical task which they are not able to complete themselves. Miracle Assistance Dogs (MAD) is dedicated to the training of Assistance, Therapy and Facility dogs for:
Autism Spectrum Disorder
Mental Health Support Depression, Anxiety, PTSD
How long do I have to wait for a Miracle Assistance Dog?
Miracle Assistance Dogs are a registered charity and relies on generous donations to enable them to continue their valuable work. MAD is one of the only organisations in Australia that choose a recipient prior to obtaining the dog, we do this to train the dog in specialised tasks for their recipient, for this reason there are long waiting lists and even successful applicants may be on a waiting list for more than 2 years and not receive a dog due to a lack of funds.
What training methods does Miracle Assistance Dogs use?
MAD trainers utilise the latest training theories to ensure that our dogs love their training, enjoy a wide variety of experiences in the world around them and really want to work because they want to and not because we make them.
Some of our training methods are cutting edge and are designed to ensure that our dogs form a strong and loving bond with the recipient from the first day they meet. This method helps the transition for the dog from enjoying working with the trainers to loving working with the recipient from day one.
We would like to tell you more but it is the secret spice that lets our dogs make miracles happen. Our Founder, Carmel (Fudge) Kaczmar designed this process to ensure that the dogs will love to be with and work with their recipient. We can tell you that the puppies tails wag happily while engaged in the fun activity that helps them grow up to be miracle makers.
It’s not only our dogs that are happy. By using training theory that lets our dogs make choices and let them enjoy all the things in life they love like treats, play and cuddles, our trainers stay calm and love what they are doing too. We understand that to raise happy, calm and assured Miracle Assistance Dogs that we need to teach our trainers that simply being patient and waiting while a dog makes a choice is the easiest way to success.
Of course, the puppies and dogs don’t always get it right the first time and that’s part of the fun as we try and figure out how we can help the puppy to understand what we want. We do this without yanking on leads, pushing a dog or puppy into position or any other methods which can potentially physically or mentally harm our dogs. Instead we work on building trust and confidence in our dogs. The end result is smiling faces and wagging tails everywhere.
Most of the time we receive an application and then select a puppy for the specific tasks that it will need to learn for that person. For instance, some breeds of dog are better for finding lost items, others are better at picking up dropped or heavy items, some are better at pulling a wheelchair and others are better at smelling a medical condition that is making someone sick.
By starting with the applicant and then selecting the puppy we are able to guide the dog’s training towards the specific needs of the applicant. This ensures that a Miracle Assistance Dog is not just an Assistance Dog that does generic tasks but instead is trained to bring miraculous changes into your life.
Why is training a Miracle Assistance Dog so expensive?
Training a Miracle Assistance Dog is costly and can exceed $30,000 per year. Many dogs can be in training for 2 years. Here is a brief list of just some of the expenses you may already know about and some that you may not have considered.
Do you know how much a puppy eats in the first year of its life? Our dogs are fed high quality food and enjoy regular servings of foods such as fresh meat, fruits and vegetables. Other foods include treats which are not just a treat but which offer high nutritional value as well and these are very expensive.
Vaccinations are annually but Veterinary checks are more frequent and occur at least 6 monthly. Some puppies or dogs may need other checkups. Things like getting a grass seed that becomes a sore or a puppy with an ear ache. While we provide a high level of daily care for our puppies and dogs there are times when an extra trip to the Vet is needed and sometimes it is just to make sure everything is fine.
Pet Insurance is expensive but we like to know that we will be able to afford the best Veterinary care if one of our puppies or dogs ever needs it.
Training! This is an area where we wish we could afford to pay trainers and it is the area where we are able to save money. However, it works like this. We can receive 100 applicants in one year. All of our current trainers are volunteers. Volunteer trainers work full time and they are a very limited resource when we only want trainers with the right training experience, education and ability to ensure our puppies are treated right. Most trainers who meet our needs are in need of a salary themselves and that is as it should be. These highly skilled, experienced and educated trainers have put a lot into their profession and they deserve to be paid. In order to pay the trainers, we need to raise more funds and that is difficult for many charities in Australia. Therefore, we can’t provide a Miracle Assistance Dog to every applicant. That is sad. So if you would like to sponsor a dog, hold a fundraiser or leave a bequest so that more people can be helped then let us know. We would love to hear from you. Assistance Dogs are placed for free with the recipient.
Most people who need these dogs cannot afford to contribute to the training of these special dogs.
Life experience! This is a very expensive and vitally important part of each dogs training. Puppies need to experience as much as possible in the world during their first 12 months and that continues throughout their training. An adult dog that has never been to a regional show, such as the Royal Easter Show, may be fearful when in that type of environment. This would be tragic if a young person in a wheelchair was unable to attend the show because their dog couldn’t work in that environment. Not everyone with a Miracle Assistance Dog is in a wheelchair. Some disabilities are invisible. What if a person who relies on a Diabetic Alert Assistance Dog couldn’t travel on a train or bus to go to work because their dog was afraid of travelling? That is why our puppies and dogs need to experience lots of different things. Dogs can be fearful of things they don’t know. Just a few of the experiences our dogs enjoy are busy airports, plane trip, meeting farm animals, pocket pets and birds, New Year’s Eve fireworks celebrations, concerts, the movies, boat and ferry rides, train trips, bus trips, tram rides, going to the markets and local events such as the food and wine festival. They also meet lots of different people such as those wearing uniforms or funny clothes such as Santa Claus, elves, Easter Bunnies, Regional Fire Services Mascot, people playing guitars in the street at the Tamworth Music Festival, people taking tickets at the Maitland Steamfest, children on skateboards and pushbikes. They learn to enjoy being around motor bikes, helicopters, airplanes, being in a busy shopping centre, listening to children screaming and playing and the list goes on. Yes, these are just some of what every Miracle Assistance Dog experiences in the first 2 years of its life. We said it’s fun but it is also very expensive. The dog can do all of this for free but not by itself.
Bed and housing. Our dogs have crates with special antibacterial soft and comfortable bedding that can be washed easily. They travel with mats to put down so they know where to lay when out visiting people in public places such as the plush carpet at an appointment on a day that it is raining. The antibacterial bedding is bought in rolls and is very expensive. While we are looking at the bedding we should mention electricity, water, washing powder, the washing machine and dryer, detergent, disinfectants and other cleaning products and aids like mops, pooper scoopers, poop bags, ear drops, brushes, combs, scissors, clippers, grooming fees, bowls, collars, leads, coats, logo badges and licenses for public access. I think you are getting the idea that there are probably things that have not even been thought about.
One last thing while we are here but not the last thing that I could put on the list if we had more time. Toys and training aids. Our puppies can’t get bored. Yes, they do training and they go out a lot but the toys are always there too. Yes, the puppies destroy the toys and that is what they are supposed to do. A puppy will usually have all of its adult teeth and therefore be finished teething by the time it is 10 months of age. That is a long time to need toys to chew on. The toys are also used for training. One puppy can go through 100 toys or more in its first 12 months. That’s expensive. The toys are not a luxury. Toys are an important part of growing healthy and well adjusted puppies that don’t develop behaviour problems.
Why can’t I pat an Assistance Dog?
Talking or calling to, whistling at, distracting or touching a Miracle Assistance Dog can distract the dog from their important work. The handler of an Assistance Dog may be dependent on the dog for more than added independence. For instance; a Diabetic Alert Dog may miss providing a lifesaving alert if they are distracted.
So, when you see an Assistance Dog wearing its coat, please don’t even make eye contact. Of course, while being respectful that the dog is working it may be appreciated by the handler if you say hello to the person.
Do I obtain ownership of the dog?
The cost of raising and training a Miracle Assistance Dog is $30,000.00 per year and the dog requires 2 years of training. These highly trained dogs remain the property of Miracle Assistance Dogs throughout their lifetime. If the dogs training or welfare is not maintained, or a complaint is received against the recipient or the dog, or the recipient is no longer eligible to have an Assistance, Therapy or Facility dog, then Miracle Assistance Dogs retain the right to repossess the dog. Each situation is assessed on its own unique circumstances. In the incidence of a dog being recovered the handler will be provided a copy of the complaint handling procedure or you may ask for this at any time.
When I get the dog, will it be trained?
When the recipient receives their Miracle Assistance Dog it will be trained to a very high standard. This includes obedience exercises, plus tasks specific to the recipient’s needs. However recipients need to seriously consider their ability to continue, maintain and advance the dogs training on a daily basis. It is important for the dog to work and be practicing its tasks with you every day.
Will the dog have Public Access when I receive it?
The dog will be trained to a very high standard in obedience and specific tasks to assist you. Plus the dog will have already been to a lot of public places and events. However the Public Access Test (PAT) is conducted to ascertain the ability of the dog and handler to work safely in public. This is called an Assistance Dog team and includes you as the handler and the dog.
What if I can’t handle the dog myself?
For people who may find it difficult to hold the dog’s leash, they can apply to nominate 1 or 2 alternate handlers. An alternate handler is able to assist by managing the dog on leash for you when you are unable to. Each alternate handler is required to complete a training program and the PAT as well.
Will the dog be able to go everywhere with me?
Once the Assistance Dog team have successfully completed the PAT, they have the same access rights as a Seeing Eye Dog. Certified Assistance Dogs, either in training or fully trained, with their approved handlers have the right to enter public places, public passenger vehicles and places of accommodation. This includes shops, cinemas, cafes, restaurants, clubs, rental and holiday accommodation, taxis, planes, public transport and entertainment and sports venues.
Where can’t I take my Assistance Dog?
Places where a certified dog cannot go includes:
Sterile environments which include certain parts of a health service facility (e.g. hospital, medical centre), namely:
an in-patient ward
a labour ward
a procedure room
a recovery area
areas where standards of hygiene are maintained at a significantly high level for preventing infection or the spread of disease
Areas where presence of the dog would affect the safe and effective delivery of health services.
food preparation areas or any part of a public place, public passenger vehicle where food is normally prepared.
Where the presence of the dog would present a risk to the health or welfare of people ordinarily at the place or on the vehicle.
Other exceptions are zoos, aquariums and quarantine areas.
What can I do if I am refused entry?
Refusal of entry to a restaurant, bus, taxi, private rental or holiday accommodation, for example may attract monetary penalties for an individual or a corporation.
Discrimination against Assistance Dog Teams may also breach Commonwealth anti-discrimination legislation.
If you are refused entry after calmly explaining the above and showing your Public Access Licence from MAD, you should immediately or as soon as possible write down the name of the person and organisation who refused you entry, plus any witnesses.
Then contact Team MAD and provide a written account of your experience. We will then attempt to mediate on your behalf to seek a satisfactory outcome. If a satisfactory outcome is not achieved we will refer your incident to the Anti-Discrimination Board of NSW.
When can public access be refused to an Assistance Dog Team?
See above for “Where can’t I take my Assistance Dog?”
Plus, it is important for handlers to understand that they represent the organisation that approves them for Public Access. As such they should conduct themselves in a manner that does not bring Miracle Assistance Dogs into disrepute.
Further, the law requires that Assistance Dogs are able to work safely and are clean and presentable and well behaved when in a public place.
Failure to comply with any of the above, may result in refusal of entry to a public place. In those instances, if a complaint is made against the Assistance Dog team, the handler should notify Team MAD at their earliest convenience so that a fair assessment of the facts can be made.
How long does my Public Access Licence last?
After successfully completing the MAD Public Access Test, each MAD Assistance Dog team are required to return to Maitland every 12 months for training assessment and review. Further to this the Public Access Test must be conducted every 3 years. The MAD Public Access test is conducted each year in February/March and October/November. Failure to attend any of these assessments will result in the licence being revoked.
How long does a Miracle Assistance Dog work for, and what happens after they retire?
Each situation is different. There are dogs who continue working right up and into their old age. Some smaller breeds of dog may have an average life expectancy of 15 years and other breeds may have an average life expectancy that is much lower. So it isn’t possible to state that a dog will work until a certain age. However, what we can say is that dogs which continue to be fed a healthy diet, enjoy a good working life, receive Veterinary care when needed and when the dogs’ training is maintained, can go on working much longer than dogs that miss out on those things.
When a dog is ready to be retired we look at that particular scenario and work with the recipient to find the best outcome. In many cases the dogs continue to live with their recipient for as long as they can. In some instances, a family member wants to take on the dog’s care in retirement. Some dogs may come back to us and live their life with a trainer or puppy raiser.
There is one thing for certain and that is that the dog enjoys its life right to the end.
I am training my own dog to be my Assistance Dog. Can you test my dog?
Miracle Assistance Dogs Inc. does not conduct the Public Access Test. Instead we utilise the services of Carmel (Fudge) Kaczmar to conduct the Public Access Test.
Under this structure, we require an expression of interest to be completed prior to be being able to be assessed as to suitability to proceed to meeting the requirements for sitting the Public Access Test.
Carmel Kaczmar is an Approved Assistance Dog and Hearing Dog Trainer under the Guide, Hearing and Assistance Dog Act 2009 (QLD).
The Guide, Hearing and Assistance Dogs Act 2009 (QLD) states in:-
Division 2. Certification of guide, hearing and assistance dogs
Clause 38 Certification of assistance dog
An approved assistance dog trainer may only certify an assistance dog for a person with a disability if the dog -
(a) is able to perform identifiable physical tasks and behaviours to assist the person in a way that reduces the person's need for support; and
(b) has passed a public access test conducted by the following within 7 days before being certified -
(i) for an approved trainer - the trainer;
(ii) for an approved training institution - an employee
trainer of the institution;
(c) is not a restricted breed as defined under the Local Government Act 1993; and
(d) is desexed and vaccinated; and
(e) has not been declared a dangerous dog under a local law.
Carmel Kaczmar, also known as Fudge, is an approved Hearing and Assistance Dog Trainer, under the Guide, Hearing and Assistance Dog Act 2009 (QLD). Miracle Assistance Dogs (MAD) utilised the services of Carmel (FUDGE) Kaczmar to conduct the Public Access Test. All confidential files are retained by MAD. Carmel (FUDGE) Kaczmar is the founder of ADNSW and a volunteer of Assistance Dogs NSW Inc. and a volunteer with MAD.