A Liberal Democrat MP has given his support toa charity dedicated to training and providing dogs to assist disabled people with basic tasks in their own home.

Edward Davey,(pictured) the MP for Kingston and Surbiton in Surrey wants to increase local councils’ and the public’s awareness of the work undertaken by “assistance dogs”.

Mr Davey believes that dogs provided by the charity, Canine Partners for Independence can offer disabled people extra independence as well as a host of other benefits.

“A relationship withan animal can provide huge benefits to some people,” said Mr Davey. “Assistance dogs can also help to reduce the cost of caring for people in their own home.”

Carers are provided and paid for by social services. For those people able to choose and pay for their helpers themselves, making use of an assistance dog can provide 24-hour care as opposed to a home help for a set number of hours per week.

Based in Petersfield, Hampshire, the charity was established in 1991 and placed its first fully trained dog in 1994.

Working mainly with wheelchair users dogs are trained to follow 100 commands ranging from fetching and carrying to emptying the washing machine and helping people get dressed.

The charity has found that the breeds of dog best suited to their work are Labradors, Golden Retrievers and Standard Poodles. Cross breeds such as Labradoodles, Retroodles and Retrievers/Labradors also work equally well.

Cliff Lane Relationship Marketing Manager for Canine Partners for Independence said: “Our aim is to provide dogs to help people practically, but these dogs also provide huge emotional and physiological benefits too.

“It is fantastic that Edward has lent his support to us and once our new training centre in opens on 1 May in Midhurst, West Sussex, we hope to continue the excellent work we do.”

For more information on Canine Partners for Independence click here.