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Registered Charity No. 803605955RR0001

about Autism dog services

About Us
Autism Dog Services (ADS) was founded in 2007 by Wade Beattie, a pioneer in the Autism Service Dog industry. Autism Dog Services is accredited by Assistance Dogs International and is also a member of the Canadian Association of Guide and Assistance Dog Schools.  Autism Dog Services makes a very positive impact on the lives of individuals with autism and their families and is honoured to serve the community with its strong values.

Who We Serve
Autism Dog Services is a unique and highly effective provider of service dogs for individuals over three years of age with autism and related disorders in most parts of Southwestern Ontario.  All interested applicants have the right to be considered to receive a service dog.

Each autism service dog enables the individual, who may otherwise feel isolated, to build self-esteem and participate in community life. 



Vicky Spadoni
Executive Director
(519) 722-2685


Vicky has devoted most of her career working for charities since 1998. Prior to this she worked in healthcare in Therapeutic Recreation. Her experiences all include the role of advocacy, leadership and fundraising for special populations. In fact, Vicky co-founded a national charity that was near and dear to her heart. She has advocated for causes either as an employee or volunteer that include: specialized transit for persons with disabilities, lung health, Children’s safety, Mitochondrial disorders, Autoimmune deficiencies, services for seniors and probation and parole to name a few.

Vicky grew up on her family farm so animals were her love and passion from a very young age just outside of Brantford, ON. Now, her husband Rick and her only adopt rescued dogs most with special needs of their own. She is very proud of her only son Adam who has and continues to face health and cognitive challenges like the champ he is!

Vicky loves her role as Executive Director for ADS and has held this position since 2017.

Allison Savard
Director, Client Services & Puppy Class Instructor
(519) 504-7658


In 2002, Allison began her work in the assistance dog industry for an organization that paired the first service dog in the world with a child with autism.

Allison has worked in a variety of roles over the years; including puppy raiser coordinator, grant writer, client services, puppy class trainer, and advanced dog trainer-instructor.

Allison currently works closely with families pursuing service dogs, teaches ADS puppy classes and helps support volunteers raising future service dogs for ADS. The ability for service dogs to support families and change lives is what motivates Allison in her current position.

In her free time, Allison enjoys swimming, running, gardening, and spending time with her family and Lab, Gordon. 

Janine Brubacher
Volunteer & Adoptions Manager, Advanced Training Manager 
(519) 722-6563


Janine has been working in the autism service dog industry since 2006 when she began an apprenticeship with a leading service dog organization in Southwestern Ontario.  She has been working with Autism Dog Services since 2013 in a variety of roles including Advanced Training, Client Services, Puppy Program, Adoption Program and Volunteer Management.  She currently manages the Adoptions and Volunteer Programs as well as managing the Advanced Training team at ADS.  She enjoys working hands on with the older puppies who are working their way through the final stages of their puppy training while also taking dogs into her home to finish up the final advanced training and then matching those dogs with their forever families.  Forming relationships with the volunteers and clients and seeing a dogs’ journey from an 8 week puff ball to a mature service dog are some of the most rewarding parts of the job for her.

Dianne Nyeboer
Puppy Program Manager
(519) 721-3376


A lifelong animal lover, Dianne has been involved in the Service Dog community for the past 15 years. Her experiences include fostering, whelping 2 litters at home, competing in CKC Rally Obedience and many classes in dog training, health and behaviour. As well, degrees in Science and Education with a minor in Special Education allows her to combine her knowledge and skills between Service dog training and the needs of the families that receive the dogs.

Dianne is qualified in First Aid for both dogs and humans. She enjoys spending time with a variety of ADS dogs and fondly remembers her first Service dog in training puppy; Lindor and pet dog Maya. 

Adele Alfano
Fund Development Manager
(519) 774-0267


Adele is Hamilton born and bred and has always had a love for animals. She cannot remember a time when her family’s home included a four-legged friend. Armed with her Bachelor of Arts degree from McMaster University, Adele enjoyed a successful career in sales, marketing, and advertising in the newspaper industry. Throughout the years, Adele has enjoyed a variety of roles that included event planning, training and development and as a professional motivational speaker.

As the Fund Development Manager, Adele works closely with the ADS team to raise funds, building upon community partnerships, coordinating events, managing donors and overseeing fundraising volunteers. In her current role, what motivates Adele is changing lives and making a meaningful difference.

In her spare time, Adele enjoys swimming, reading, experimenting with new recipes and spending time with her close- knit Italian family and friends!

Vicki Zettler
Puppy Raiser Coordinator
(519) 774-1584


Vicki has been training and placing Service Dogs since 2012.  After completing her degree in Psychology from the University of Waterloo, Vicki completed an Apprentice Trainer program to become a Service Dog trainer-instructor.

At ADS she focuses on coordinating canine health, providing home support, advanced training, and post-placement support for families.  
When she’s not working, Vicki enjoys spending time outdoors with her husband, two young children, and her senior dog Sophie.

Julia Hartless
Advanced Trainer & Puppy Class Instructor


Julia has been involved in training dogs since she was 12 years old, after the introduction to her very own Labrador Retriever. Since then, she has assisted with obedience, trick training, and hunt/retriever training; eventually coming to ADS to work with service dogs.

Julia has volunteered and worked with Autism Dog Services since 2016. During her time with ADS, she has fostered 9 dogs, puppy-sat dozens of puppies and assisted in many other areas of ADS.

Julia works as an Advanced Trainer, Home Support Trainer and Class Instructor for the Hamilton Region. She loves working alongside the amazing team at Autism Dog Services.

Board of Directors

James Barnby, Chair

Paul Burbank, Vice Chair

Jordan Pelkmans, Secretary

Amy Childs, Treasurer 

Nicole Correale, Member

Brenda Gough, Member


Autism Dog Services Inc. (ADS) is a registered Canadian Charity # 803605955RR0001 established in the Province of Ontario. ADS fosters the integration of individuals over three years of age with autism and/or related disorders by training, placing and supporting service dogs that offer safety, companionship, and independence. Autism Dog Services is also a Facility Dog provider.  Autism Dog Services functions with a small staff and key volunteers. 

There is a non-refundable $75 application processing fee.

There is a $200 fee for the service or facility dog equipment.  This fee is due when the family or facility is matched with the service dog.  There are no fees to receive training or to graduate with a service or facility dog. On-going costs for a facility and service dog include: dog food, treats, toys, routine and annual veterinary care, emergency veterinary care, and grooming. Recipients of facility and service dogs are responsible for the annual cost of approximately $2500 – $3000 a year plus any emergency veterinary care.  Autism Dog Services recommends pet insurance to help with costs of veterinary care and/or potential emergency veterinary care.

The majority of the dogs are Labrador Retrievers.  We have some Golden Retrievers, Standard Poodles and Standard Poodle crosses.  

Autism service dogs are handled by the child’s parent or guardian at home and by an educator at school. The service dogs are trained to respond and follow commands given by the handler.

Facility dogs are typically handled by staff from the facility.  The facility dogs are trained to respond and follow commands given by the handler. 

Parents/guardians and facility dog handlers are responsible for the dog’s handling, care, well-being and maintenance (i.e. maintaining training, health/veterinary care, feeding, grooming and exercise). 

The parent or guardian handler is to act as a liaison between the child with autism and the service dog. The individual with autism is responsible for assisting with tasks relating to the service dog with help from a parent or guardian.

The facility dog handler is to act as a liaison between the client and the facility dog.  The client can receive physical, social, emotional and cognitive benefits from the facility dog.

Autism service dogs from Autism Dog Services are identified by the silver and red service dog jacket worn while accompanying the individual with autism in public settings at all times. The service dog jacket is equipped with a handle or short leash for the individual with autism to hold. Graduate teams are issued photo identification cards. 

Facility dogs from Autism Dog Services are identified by our logo on the dog’s jacket or scarf while working in or with the facility.  

Autism service dogs from Autism Dog Services may be able to assist with safety outside of the home, and while out in public settings. The service dog can act as a physical anchor for a child with autism who is a flight risk. This is for small children and is only used to help allow the parent/guardian time to intervene and direct the child back to their dog to proceed walking safely.  The autism service dog can also prevent individuals from wandering away from the family while out in public settings. 

For some, holding onto the handle on the dog’s jacket is enough to assist with keeping the individual with their autism service dog while allowing for greater independence and safety.  The need for tethering is evaluated on a case-by-case basis and is optional. 

Autism Dog Services autism service dogs provide independence for individuals with autism by making public outings easier for parents/guardians or caregivers. For many parents, this is the first opportunity to have their child walk independently of holding onto them.

Parents/guardians are responsible for assisting the individual with the autism service dog and its daily care routines such as exercise, grooming and feeding; thus furthering opportunities for independence-making, learning empathy and a sense of responsibility.

The autism service dog can accompany families on all public outings. Public outings with the autism service dog allow for safety and independence for the individual with autism, who may have had difficulties participating in family activities. Families may avoid family activities outside the home for fear of compromising the child’s safety, or due to the child’s difficulty in coping with new environments.  With the autism service dog present, many families are able to pursue activities together.  For example, a family may be able to enjoy restaurant visits with their child, outings to busy places, family vacations, or endure longer car trips with the presence of a service dog. The autism service dog acts as a constant companion and is always available to the child for stroking and deep pressure tasks to help modify behaviour and make transitions easier. 

Autism service dogs from Autism Dog Services may help to modify behaviour in individuals with autism. Many parents have reported that autism service dogs provides a calming influence on their children and help make transitions easier.  

People with autism may achieve this by stroking their dog’s fur, by having their dog lay close or with deep pressure therapy. This comfort can help individuals cope with transitions between places, activities, changes in routines, and may help improve sleep patterns. The individual may be able to get through anxiety that may be associated with daily activities with the help of an autism service dog.

Autism service dogs from Autism Dog Services can bridge the social gap between individuals with autism and others. They may help to foster pro-social behaviours through posititive interactions with peers and the community. 

There are different laws that apply to assistance dogs in different provinces in Canada as well as other countries.  For more information about the laws in Ontario please refer to

Autism Dog Services is accredited by Assistance Dogs International and has been a member since 2003.  Assistance Dogs International is a coalition of non-profit programs that train and place assistance dogs around the world.  Autism Dog Services adheres to the highest standards set in the assistance dog industry.


For more information on donor or sponsorship opportunities please contact Vicky Spadoni (519) 722-2685 or our fund development manager Adele Alfano at (519) 774-0267. or


The bond between Reva and Laina is something truly special...Reva has this gentle, patient, and nurturing spirit that just envelops Laina in comfort and warmth. Reva’s cuddles are a haven and Laina melts into them, finally able to relax in a way she never could before.

Every day, we see Laina finding more peace in the routines that once were so challenging. The car rides she used to dread? Now she sits happily with Reva by her side. Public outings that once overwhelmed her? She braves them with confidence because Reva is there. Even bedtime, which used to be a struggle, has become a quiet, calming time, with Reva curled up next to her. 
What's truly astonishing is how much more Laina communicates since Reva arrived. It's as if Reva has unlocked a part of her voice that was hidden away, waiting for the right companion to bring it out. Now, Laina talks to Reva all the time, telling her about her day, sharing her thoughts, and listening to stories together...Reva is not just a companion; she's a lifeline, a source of strength, and a reason for Laina to embrace each new day with hope.

Thank you will never be enough, but it's a start. Our journey with her is just beginning, and I can't wait to see what the future holds for this incredible pair".


Laina's Mom

"Sofia is a busy girl on the severe end of the spectrum and is a very fast runner. Safety as well as anxiety entering new places have been a huge deal for us. We were limited as to where we could go with her. Basic walks in the neighborhood were difficult and unmanageable.  Our autism service dog, Manor has been able to change that. We are able to shop just the two of us now with Manor in tow, she looks for him before exiting the car when in a new place. She’s managed full doctor and dental appointments when he is by her side.  We can safely go for walks now. In public, her focus shifts to him, and sensory distractions are less overwhelming. He helps her settle and stay in bed as well, the arrangement the two of them worked out. He has been the most amazing addition to the family.  The possibility for Sofia’s participation in the community, even just to get out increased because of Manny. Manny’s presence and demeanor brightens up all of our lives too. 


Sofia's Mom

“Alex has a compulsive tendency to touch things. It severely impaired his day to day life. Going short distances took a considerable amount of time because he had to touch everything! Now with Pepsi at his side, he walks confidently and with virtually no tapping! Pepsi also keeps Alex focused on the task at hand and prevents him from wandering away.”


Alex’s mom

"Lukey joining our family has been life changing for us. Not having to worry so much about Ryan’s safety while out in public is amazing. We are doing things we haven’t tried in years"


Ryan's Mom

“Zoey has difficulty transitioning to new environments and can become very anxious and upset in these situations, leading to meltdowns and self-injurious behaviour. A typical family trip in the community could become a very stressful experience. Moe helps to ground Zoey, providing her with a sense of comfort and stability in these situations. He has been a game-changer for our family and we are very lucky to have him, thanks to Autism Dog Services."


Zoey's Dad

"Tanner, the facility dog is touching lives everyday while working as a Facility Dog from Autism Dog Services with The Haldimand County Community Paramedics as a part of their Community Paramedic Wellness Dog Team.  He brings a wagging tail, happy grin, and fluffy soft fur coat to the job each day.  Tanner has already made his mark and accompanies his handler, paramedic, Nicole to work in the community visiting patients. Tanner is a calm influence and provides patients with affection, gentleness, and comfort.  Tanner also helps support paramedics, firefighters, and the crucial staff in Haldimand County at the OPP, Hospitals, Family Doctors, Nursing Homes and more.  Tanner is loved by young and old alike, and he has excelled in the programs involving children.  He loves helping Nicole teach the children about the Paramedics and their health." 

Facility Dog, Tanner

Haldimand County Community Paramedics

“We could not be more grateful for the way Autism Dog Services has changed not only our son Lucky’s world, but the family’s as well.  Lucky was paired with ADS Wally when he was 9 years old.  Until then we had never attended a full movie, hockey game or car race as these outings were overstimulating for Lucky.  He also would wander away without understanding the danger.  With Wally by his side, Lucky was able to successfully attend outings, and when walking he proudly held onto Wally’s vest and stayed by his side, and we didn’t have to worry he would wander anymore.  When Wally could no longer continue to work, we were blessed with ADS Poppy to help Lucky successfully continue to be able to attend events and appointments.  We are so grateful to ADS and our puppy raisers Fiona, Todd and Paula for giving Lucky the gift of being able to enjoy the world around him!"


Lucky’s mom

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