Five visitors with a difference at the Ministry for Gozo

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Five visitors with a difference at the Ministry for GozoThe Minister for Gozo Justyne Caruana welcomed some special guests to Gozo – Joy, Quincy, Bliss, Brien, Johnny and Ilio, are all service dogs with the Service Dogs Malta Foundation, on a courtesy visit to the Ministry for Gozo.

The breeds are Labrador, Golden Retriever and Bernese Mountain Dog, aged between six weeks and one year, and after around eighteen months of training will be fully fledged service dogs.

After successfully completing the training, these dogs will assist in the daily lives of children suffering with autism as well with diabetes. Furthermore, these dogs accompanied by their handlers, also visit schools to raise awareness of the service offered and how a person should react when they encounter a “working” dog.

Five visitors with a difference at the Ministry for GozoJoe Stafrace, coordinator of Service Dogs Malta Foundation explained the mission and goals of the foundation within Maltese society.

He said that as a Foundation, which is still relatively small, it has made major strides when you consider that in just a few years, five dogs have already graduated helping those with a condition or disability.

During his discussions with the Minister for Gozo, Mr Stafrace expressed his wish that the Foundation should begin offering its services in Gozo.

Minister Justyne Caruana warmly welcomed the proposal, saying, “I am optimistic that together with the collaboration of the Service Dogs Malta Foundation, they can help to raise awareness among students in Gozitan schools.”

“As time goes on, the more the public is becoming aware of the services offered by the Foundation as well as the support being provided by these dogs,” added Dr Caruana.

The Minister mentioned how last year, a visually impaired lady from the UK, was able to enjoy the opera in Gozo accompanied by her guide dog. “This experience has shown how Gozo endorses the concept of inclusion,” said Minister Caruana.

The Minister for Gozo concluded by saying that, thanks to these dogs we continue to build a fair society that is more inclusive and elevate the field of disability as an important reality in the life of the community.

Photographs: MGOZ/Terry Camilleri

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