Speech by Ms Cassandra Chiu, Executive Director, K9Assistance (Limited)

K9 Assistance Singapore Official Logo
July 4, 2024

A very good morning to our guest-of-honour, Mr Eric Chua, Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth & Ministry of Social and Family Development;  

Her Excellency, Sarah McGrath, Ambassador of Ireland to Singapore;

Mr Errol Levy, Deputy Head of Mission, European Union Delegation to Singapore;

Members of Parliament: Ms Carrie Tan and Mr Ong Hua Han;

K9Assistance Board of Directors;

Distinguished guests, ladies, and gentleman; and Sienna, Singapore’s first Ambassador Assistance Dog.

  1. The first Assistance Dog was a Seeing-Eye Dog that started working on our sunny island in 1982. Forty years on, when K9Assistance was founded in 2020, there were only six working assistance dogs supporting the blind in Singapore. How can that be enough? What about people with other disabilities who could also benefit from the life-changing support of an assistance dog? 
  2. Assistance Dogs for people with disabilities is not a new thing. Around the world for the past few decades, rigorous training for assistance dogs was established and accredited by Assistance Dogs International. However, no such other type of assistance dog is available in Singapore to date. 
  3. K9Assistance was set up by a group of like-minded friends to promote the use and acceptance of not only seeing-eye dogs for the blind, but also Mobility Assistance Dogs for people with physical disabilities; Hearing Dogs for the Deaf or Hard of hearing; and Autism Assistance Dogs for the Autistics, all of which align to the definition of what constitutes disability in Singapore.
  4. We strongly believe that every person with a disability should have the opportunity to lead life to the fullest with help from Assistance Dogs. 
  5. Later this morning, we will be debuting K9Assistance’s Ambassador Assistance Dog, Sienna, who will demonstrate how these different types of assistance dogs support people with various disabilities.
  6. Over the past four years, we have been working hard to engage different segments of the community to promote the use and acceptance of these four types of Assistance Dogs. We would not have been able to do this without the funding of over $1 million in the past four years from our Principal Donor, the L87 Foundation, the Tote Board, and many other donors.
  7. I want to highlight two significant milestones. First, we are heartened by the support from Singaporeans from all walks of life. In our 2022 public perception survey, over 90 percent of respondents expressed support for persons with disabilities using assistance dogs in their day-to-day life. 
  8. Secondly, we are gathered here to celebrate the support of over 50 businesses that have pledged their support as an Assistance Dog Friendly Business. They will welcome different types of assistance dogs to enter their establishments. 
  9. We hope that SPS Eric Chua may possibly have a third milestone to gift the disabled community, which we together with colleagues from the various government ministries and agencies have been working tirelessly towards in the past few years so that K9Assistance will finally be able to start placing Assistance Dogs beyond Seeing-Eye Dogs. 
  10. As you would hear later, these special dogs are meticulously trained over 2 years and K9Assistance would need the generosity of everyone to fund the training of Assistance Dogs so that they could be placed with persons with disabilities at no cost.
  11. I also want to thank my team for the past 1,460 days of hard work that all of you have put in to bring Singapore closer to welcoming Singapore’s first Assistance Dog beyond a seeing-eye dog.
  12. Distinguished guests, most of all, today would not be possible without your individual support.
  13. From my personal experience as a blind person, the disabled amongst us also aspire to reap the rewards of our nation, including going to a good school, making many friends, having a career, family, getting a nice apartment, etc. They can do so with the help of a bona fide Assistance Dog. Please help us to help ourselves by being inclusive towards those of us who need a four-legged, furry friend to pave the way forward.
  14. Thank you. I trust you will enjoy the rest of the morning.

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