The Farrell Family. Credit: Supplied.

Assistance dog gives disabled Bay of Plenty girl freedom, independence

Leah Panapa 27/09/2021

LISTEN: A Bay of Plenty family has seen firsthand how an assistance dog can change the life of a person affected by a disability.

This week is Assistance Dogs NZ Trust's Appeal Week, petitioning the public to help fund the organisation's plans to double its dog training graduates within the next three years.

The Farrell family, who live in the seaside town of Omokoroa, near Tauranga, have their own story of assistance dog changing their lives.

Daughter Georgie has autism spectrum disorder, global development delay and speech delay with hearing issues.

Her Labrador Lobo joined the family in 2015 and since then has helped with Georgie's independence and crucial daily aid.

“Prior to Lobo, we weren’t able to go out as a family, and if we did we always had to hold Georgie’s hands or her wrists to keep her safe," says Georgie's mum Liz Farrell.

"Having to put a harness on her meant we were subject to many judgemental looks, as Georgie’s disability isn’t immediately obvious."

Chair of Assistance Dogs NZ Trust Sinead Horgan says the Trust doesn’t receive any government funding, and is funded solely by generous donations and sponsors.

“That’s why our annual Appeal Week is critical to further our plans to engage more dog trainers and ramp up our breeding programme, ultimately serving the unique needs of the disabled community.”

Listen to the full interview with Liz Farrell above.

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