Help for self-help - a life with four-legged support

„Tiere Helfen Leben“ wants to enable more people to have a well-trained assistance dog and with them Provide help for self-help.

Photo of Alexandra
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I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria and terms of the Purina BetterwithPets Prize and, based on its description, I am eligible to apply:

  • Yes, I’m eligible
  • Yes, I’m 18 years old or older

Should you be successful, please confirm your availability to attend:

  • Additional Skype interview(s) during the week of March 16-20th 2020
  • The Purina BetterwithPets Forum in Paris, on 3-4th of June 2020

Initiative's representative name

Mag. Alexandra Wischall-Wagner for the Association "Tiere helfen Leben" (engl. Animal Help Life)

Initiative's representative date of birth


Initiative's representative gender

  • Woman

Headquarters location: country

  • Austria

Headquarters location: city


Where are you making a difference?


Website or social media url(s)

Focus Areas

  • Fostering emotional intelligence and behavioural competences
  • Promote inclusivity
  • Enhance physical activity and wellness
  • Re-imagining the role of pets in society

Organisation Type

  • nonprofit/NGO: an organisation that uses its resources to achieve a purpose outside of creating profit

1. Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that led the founder(s) to get started or the story of how you saw the potential for this project to succeed.

"Tiere helfen Leben" has been training therapy dogs for over 15 years. Tthere were many inquiries about assistance dogs, so we considered how we could handle this according to our ethical code to the satisfaction of the disabled, but also in the sense of animal welfare within the needs of the dog. The project became concrete when there were sufficiently trained dog behavior trainers who were also interested in training assistance dogs. This fulfilled our concern of being able to offer training at affordable costs. The requirement that dogs can be trained in accordance with their people and trained for their task without letting them go through multiple hands was within reach. After training assistant dog trainers was an offer possible.

2. The problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

There are still too few assistance dogs for the number of people who would need them. Most are trained externally and are therefore very expensive for people with disabilities.

3. Your solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

With our concept of "advice, training and coaching on the apartment to assist dogs" can be trained much faster, cheaper and targeted and thus expand the offer.

4. Innovation: How are you innovating or using unique approaches to solve the problem?

The innovative network of people for counseling, training and coaching people with disabilities can break new ground.

5. How does your project harness the pet-human bond to help people develop important social competencies (For example: emotional intelligence, collaboration, empathy, resilience, inclusivity) and overcome serious societal issues (for example: violence, abuse, trauma, isolation, abandonment)?

People with trained assistance dogs are able to develop professionally and socially. Isolation from disability or emotional withdrawal is less. Dangers in which people could be are better monitored and assistance dogs create confidence and trust in the owner's own integrity.

6. Impact: how has your project made a difference so far in terms of both business outputs and social impact? How do you plan on measuring progress?

With each assistance dog trained by the "Tiere helfen Leben" network, an impaired person can become more independent and less dependent on the health system than without our network.

7. Growth strategies: what are your main strategies for scaling your impact?

Through personal contact with the respective people who guide an assistance dog through the "Tiere helfen Leben" concept.

8. Creating shared value: How does your initiative create value for different stakeholders?

Thanks to our concept, more people than before can guide an assistance dog and, if necessary, more animal welfare dogs can find a home at this.

9. Financial sustainability plan: can you tell us about your plan to fund your project and how that plan will be sustainable in the short, medium, and long term?

The project is financed through ongoing donations, fundraisers and sponsors and income from the association. A lot of initiative on the part of the organizers is also based.

10. Team: what is the current composition of your team (types of roles, qualifications, full-time vs. part-time, board members, etc.), and how do you plan to evolve the team’s composition as the project grows?

The project supervisors are the chairwoman of the association "Tiere helfen Leben", coordinators and the assistant dog trainers. The duplication in the area of the trainer offer is planned.

11. How do you plan to influence your field of work if you are a winner of this edition of the Purina BetterwithPets Prize?

The prize would allow us to develop the project much more intensively and also reach the beneficiaries through increased promotion.

12. How did you hear about this challenge?

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Attachments (4)


Austrian Federal Law for disabled people


Animal Welfare Investigation in German


Folder "Beratung, Ausbildung, Coaching auf dem Weg zum Assistenzhund" in German

1 comment

Join the conversation:

Photo of Tatiana Krasovskaya

We would love to make contacts with your company even if we will not win the prize - your project is very close to that one we discussed with my colleagues just several days ago. But here in Russia we have no experience in choosing and training assistant dogs for disabled people. So, would be glad to hear som feedback from you!