Meeting demand for autism service dogs requires volunteer recruitment for new trainers

Meeting demand for autism service dogs requires volunteer recruitment for new trainers
CALEDONIA—Advanced trainer, Julia Hartless, with Weston, a 14-month-old labrador retriever who is in the “finishing phase” of his training. —Haldimand Press photo by Joanne Dorr.

By Joanne Dorr

The Haldimand Press

CALEDONIA—More often we are seeing an increased presence of service dogs, and behind each service dog’s intuitive sense of duty is a team of committed trainers who find their work deeply rewarding. Julia Hartless of Caledonia is an advanced trainer at Autism Dog Services, an organization that services autistic children aged 3 to 18. Since 2016, Hartless has been training dogs and matching them with families throughout southwestern Ontario. 

Hartless explains why the pandemic was a call to action for families who were pondering their need for a service dog: “With COVID, everything was up in the air for so long. Routines weren’t set and families were realizing they would benefit from something like a service dog.” 

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