Since 2011, Smart Pups has grown from one dedicated trainer to Australia’s leading provider of assistance dogs.
Smart Pups was founded by Patricia McAlister, a respected Dog Trainer and Behaviourist with 30 years of experience breeding champion Golden Retrievers. When asked to train a dog for a child in a wheelchair, Patricia became aware of the need for Assistance Dogs trainers in Australia, and wanted to help.
Patricia completed a five-month internship with 4 Paws for Ability in the USA, a pioneer of Autism Assistance Dogs for children. Here, she learnt specialised techniques for training Service Dogs for Multipurpose Assistance, Seizure Assistance and Autism Assistance.
Patricia returned to Australia in 2011 and started Smart Pups Assistance Dogs with a small training facility in Noosa, Queensland. Since then, we’ve successfully placed more than 100 dogs all across Australia. At any one time, we have about 30-40 dogs in training and 60+ families on our waiting list. Our team has grown to include more than 15 trainers, administrative staff and volunteers – plus dozens of amazing foster families for our puppies-in-training.
We’re proud to have been one of the first organisations to train assistance dogs for people under 18 years old. In 2015, we were instrumental in changing legislation to allow children to have their very own assistance dog with an alternative handler.
Smart Pups is a not-for-profit charity relying solely on sponsorships, partnerships, grants, and donations to cover costs. Each family also agrees to engage in fundraising activities as volunteers for Smart Pups and donate the funds raised to help cover the training costs (approx. $40,000) for a Smart Pup for their child.