The Malta Independent 4 October 2023, Wednesday
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First Maltese service dog trainers for the Service Dogs Malta Foundation

Saturday, 4 July 2015, 08:10 Last update: about 9 years ago

The Service Dogs Malta Foundation reached a milestone this week with the training of its very first local service dog trainers: Robert Spiteri, Michelle Borg and Lindsey Ciantar.  As highlighted by Joseph Stafrace, co-founder of the foundation, at a press conference held  on the 2 July at the Vivaldi Hotel  to mark the occasion, this means that the foundation will be able to provide more dogs to more people in need as training them locally will significantly bring down the Eur15,000 it costs to train a service dog. Once trained a service dog is provided to the person it has been matched with for free.

The training is being given by veteran service dog trainers Alan Kordowski and Becky McClintock from Service Dogs, Inc. Texas who have over 30 years’ experience in this field.

Parliamentary Secretary for Rights of Persons with Disability Justyne Caruana expressed her support for the work being undertaken by the foundation and her belief in the role dogs can play in alleviating the daily stresses experienced by people with disabilities.

A service dog is a dog that is individually trained to perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual or other mental disability. 

The focus of the Service Dogs Malta Foundation is on training visual assistance dogs, hearing dogs,      autism assistance dogs, diabetic alert dogs and mobility support dogs.

Ralph Cassar, secretary –general of Alternattiva Demokratika, stressed the fact that more awareness needs to be created regarding the many different ways dogs can be of service to people with disability.

The Service Dogs Malta Foundation currently has four dogs who are ready to be trained– Ilio and Ialta (both kindly donated by the C.E.S.E.C.A.H breeding centre in France), Bailey and Harley - and Hope (a puppy who will eventually beget other puppies to be trained, kindly donated by Bernardette Borg).  These dogs are presently in the care of their foster carers whose job it is to ensure their wellbeing and to help socialise them as much as possible.

The long-term aim of the foundation is to ensure that no person who could potentially benefit from a service dog in Malta is left without one.


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