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About us


Proudly enriching the lives of New Zealanders and their families by providing purpose-trained Assistance Dogs.

Our Story

Our Story

"72% of our clients are children and young adults under 20 years old, and 50% of our clients live with autism and often multiple disorders".

Assistance Dogs New Zealand Trust (ADNZT) is a registered charitable trust, providing purpose-bred and trained dogs to clients living with a range of disabilities. We are committed to providing a quality service that evaluates each applicant individually and provides assessment, training, and follow-up to each individual client's specific needs. We provide our service to people with a wide range of disabilities.

Our mission is to enrich the lives of New Zealanders living with a disability. 72% of our clients are children and young adults under 20 years old, and 50% of our clients live with autism and often multiple disorders. Each of our clients are individuals - we take on New Zealanders with disabilities who have no other organisation to turn to and work collaboratively with other NZ service-dog organisations to refer the rest. 

Our organisation has government-granted public rights access for all our dogs under the Human Rights Act 1993 and Dog Control Act 1996. We are a member of and internationally accredited by Assistance Dogs International and are incredibly proud of the high standard of dogs we provide for our clients throughout the country. 

Our History

"Creating an organisation in New Zealand to cater for this gap of service in our community."

ADNZT was founded in 2008 by Julie and Rick Hancox after Julie left the field of a prominent service dog organisation.

During her career, she came across people with various disabilities that did not receive the same access to service dogs. There was nowhere for people with disabilities such as Autism, Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy and Diabetes to go to obtain a dog to assist with their disability with legal public access rights.

After being introduced to families bringing in dogs from the US to assist their children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Julie took on the challenge of creating an organisation in New Zealand to cater for this gap of service in our community.

Julie formulated her own dog training programme and with the constant assistance and support of Rick, Assistance Dogs New Zealand Trusts now services over 40 clients New Zealand-wide with a waiting list that is continuously growing beyond the capabilities of this unique and successful charitable organisation.

The ADNZT team continues to offer great things to the community through strong breeding stock, professional training and dog assessment programs and a consistently high placement success rate. Without a doubt, the team are committed to our cause and work tirelessly to overcome the many obstacles that come our way.

Access Rights

Public Access Rights

In 2010, ADNZT was granted full access rights under New Zealand Legislation, allowing all ADNZT pups and dogs to travel in public places. This means that an ADNZT staff member, volunteer, or client has the right to take an ADNZT puppy or dog into any public place - including, supermarkets, shopping malls, food outlets, motels or hotels, movie theatres and restaurants. They are also entitled to travel on all forms of public transport. Discrimination against persons relying on or training an Assistance Dog may be considered a breach of the Human Rights Act 1993 and/or Dog Control Act 1996.


  • How can I support ADNZT?
    You can support Assistance Dogs New Zealand Trust by welcoming our dogs into your place of business. Assistance Dogs and puppies in training, are quiet, well-behaved and clean at all times. If you're in Auckland, Hamilton, Cambridge, Tauranga, Hawkes Bay, Wellington, Christchurch or Dunedin you can apply to support ADNZT by helping to raise a young puppy in your home. See our "Puppy Development" page for more details or email us at Our organisation doesn't receive any government funding and relies entirely the generosity of our community to continue our day-to-day operations. You can support ADNZT by making a donation, assisting with fundraising activities, leaving a bequest in your will or sponsoring a puppy. See the "Support Us" page for more details.
  • Who can apply for an Assistance Dog?
    Assistance Dogs New Zealand Trust will consider an application from people living with a range of disabilities who would like to be considered for an Assistance Dog to provide assistance with their daily living, mobility and companionship. If you think that a dog would assist you with your disability then you may eligible to apply for an assistance dog. We will also consider applicants with multiple disabilities. Examples of disabilities we work with include: Autism/Asperger's Down Syndrome Developmental Impairment Brain Injury Cerebral Palsy Diabetes Physical Disabilities Neurological Disabilities
  • How can I apply for an Assistance Dog?
    The demand for our services is so high, it currently outweighs the funding we receive. Our official waitlist is currently at 45 New Zealanders. Once we resume taking new applications, the process is as below: Part 1: Receiving the Application The first step in applying for an Assistance Dog is for the applicant to Apply for an Assistance Dog. An application package will be mailed or emailed to the applicant, who must complete all of the information required and return it. Part 2: Initial Waiting List Once an application is completed and sent back, Assistance Dogs New Zealand will review the material to determine whether the applicant qualifies to progress to the second stage of the application process. If the applicant is suitable, notification will be sent and an interview scheduled. Part 3: The Interview This interview and assessment will help the applicant and Assistance Dogs New Zealand to decide if receiving an Assistance Dog would be beneficial and appropriate for the applicant and or family. An opportunity for a personal meeting also allows for further discussion, greater understanding for both parties and more effective communication. (Please note that an interview does not guarantee acceptance)
  • How much does an Assistance Dog cost?
    It costs approximately $75,000 to train each Assistance Dog. This includes everything from breeding a puppy, to food, vaccinations, training, and placement of dog to client. ADNZT continue to provide services to our clients for the working life of the dog which is 8-10 years. This is a cost that ADNZT fundraises, it is not a total cost to the client.
  • Where do we get our Funding from?
    Assistance Dogs New Zealand Trust does not receive any Government funding. We rely on your donation, bequests and support. Donations can be made to Assistance Dogs New Zealand (ADNZ) Trust at any BNZ Bank Account No. 020 528 0138534 00 or posted to PO Box 36406, Merivale, Christchurch. Our Registered Charity Trust Number is CC32920 and our Trust Incorporation Registration Number is 2144292. If you live in New Zealand your donation is tax deductible and a receipt will be issued.
  • Where does ADNZT source their puppies?
    We have developed an ADNZT breeding programme to provide ongoing supply of puppies, specifically bred for the Assistance Dog role. Puppies are also occasionally sourced from local breeders and other service dog organisations.
  • What happens if an Assistance Dog doesn't work out?
    Not all pups/dogs are successful and some are not suited to being an Assistance Dog. In these situations, the dog is withdrawn from the programme and a suitable adoption home is found. Dogs may be withdrawn for a variety of reasons.

Reporting Back

We're committed to remaining open and honest with our supporters and stakeholders at all times.


Click here to read our 2023 annual report.

Click here to access our latest, full financial report.


You can also find publicly available information about us on the Charity Services Website.

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