10 Jun Dawn Fraser welcomed as Patron
Australian swimming legend Dawn Fraser AC MBE is the new Patron for Smart Pups.
“We are very pleased to announce that Dawn has accepted the invitation to be Patron of Smart Pups Assistance Dogs,” said CEO Janelle Denny.
“Her acceptance continues the long association with our organisation. We’re excited as we head into the second half of 2022 with Dawn’s support, as we work towards the goal of empowering our families to achieve independence and inclusion.”
Dawn said she has been involved with the charity that trains assistance dogs for children with special needs from their Sunshine Coast headquarters for eight years.
“It’s just wonderful for me to be involved and to be asked to be Patron is a real honour,” she said.
Dawn said she has seen first-hand the immediate change an assistance dog can make in a child’s life and that is the reason she chose to throw her support behind Smart Pups.
“I’ve had dogs all my life and I know the joy they can bring, but when it’s a Smart Pup you see the children’s faces light up and it’s just beautiful to see, plus you know they have a trained protector by their side.
“I have seen a dog bring a child back to life after having a fit,” Dawn said.
“I want to spread the word to parents of children with autism and special needs to make sure more can benefit from owning a Smart Pup. These children have a really tough time. They don’t get much help at school, they can have trouble making friends because they are different. We’ve got to look after these children,” she said.
Dawn said seeing a child receive their Smart Pup always brought a tear to her eye.
“You see the children just come alive. They will be sitting there with headphones on, in their own world. When they see the pups, they take the headphones off, interact with the pup, start talking and just come alive. I love seeing that happen.”
Since 2011, the Sunshine Coast-based charity has provided 270 assistance dogs to children with special needs. Smart Pups trains autism service dogs, seizure response dogs and multi-purpose assistance dogs to help children with day-to-day routines, activities and events.
Each puppy takes 12-14 months to become a fully trained assistance dog, which costs around $30,000.