How to apply

Eligibility Criteria

The following criteria applies to all Supporting Paws training progammes.

  1. The applicant must have an official diagnosis of autism. The applicant must have an NHS, Local Authority Social Care, or Education Professional supporting their application.
  2. The dog will support only ONE person diagnosed on the autistic spectrum within the household.
  3. The applicant must be physically mobile.
  4. The handler must be physically capable of handling a dog.
  5. There must not be more than one child under the age of 5 at the time of transition to the family and children under the age of 2.
  6. If you live in rented accommodation, you will need to provide written evidence from your landlord/housing association that you are permitted to keep an assistance dog on the premises.
  7. You must have access to a secure private outdoor area at ground level that can be allocated to use for a dog’s toileting purposes.
  8. You must be able to provide a means of feeding, giving water and grooming the dog.
  9. You must be able to independently provide regular exercise for the dog as advised by Supporting Paws – on average this amounts to a minimum of two 45-minute off lead walks/free time. This may be longer depending on the individual requirements and size of dog.
  10. You will not leave the dog on its own for longer than 4 hours per day.
  11. You will be able to attend a training course on all aspects of handling a dog and its care. The length of the course, its format and its venue being at the discretion of Supporting Paws.
  12. You must be able to provide access to a local veterinary surgeon for routine preventative treatments and emergency treatment.
  13. You must be able to provide a crate ‘safe space’ in the house for the dog to have rest and respite when needed.
  14. You will agree to undertake all identified costs relating to assistance dog ownership i.e. insurance premiums, excesses feeding, worming, flea treatment and equipment etc.
  15. You must be able to commit to regular training and interaction with your dog throughout the training process. Handler training takes place in Kent on Thursdays and Fridays.
  16. You understand that information provided on the application form will be used by Supporting Paws to assess eligibility for our assistance dog services.
  17. You understand that Supporting Paws is committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children, young people and vulnerable adults. You agree to comply with the organisation’s safeguarding processes and procedures.
  18. The dog must not be taken abroad as we do not feel it is in the dog’s best interest to be expected to travel.

Please note that as part of the application process, eligibility will also be dependent on permission from landlords/housing associations and employers (where applicable). Additionally, home checks are conducted prior to placing a dog.

For school buddy dogs, the main handler must be a member of the SMT or a governor.

All application information received will be treated with the highest level of confidentially and respect. If you have any questions at any time, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us.

Application Process

If you are successful, we shall invite you to join our waiting list.

If your application is for someone under 16 years of age, we will put you in touch with the Tree Of Hope Children’s Charity. To find out more, click here.

If your application is unsuccessful, we will be happy to provide advice and signpost to other options if available.

Apply online today