Former Royal Marine sets up charity pairing dogs with veterans

Mick Cairns is setting up 'A Veteran's Best Friend', following his own mental health struggles.

A former Royal Marines Commando has set up a charity that pairs rescue dogs with former service personnel who are struggling with their mental health.

Mick Cairns founded 'A Veteran's Best Friend' after experiencing his own mental health issues which ended his 17-year military career.

Following a breakdown in February 2019, Mr Cairns said he went to see his doctor as he "couldn’t take it anymore" and was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and a perfectionist personality disorder.

However, after returning home that day, Mr Cairns said his rescue dog Sam reacted to him in a way he had "never seen before" and is now pivotal in his recovery

"That’s why I set the charity up in the first place and I want to pass that on to other people," he explained.

"I think all dogs...  they've got a sixth sense and they can tell when you're not right, they're very good at reading body language."

Former Royal Marine Mick Cairns, who is setting up the charity A Veteran's Best Friend
Mr Cairns, a former Royal Marine, served in the Armed Forces for 17 years (Picture: Mick Cairns).

"He still helps me and he's not trained, but he is doing what he needs to do," the veteran added.

Mr Cairns said before he went to get help "it was seven years of hell" and he now wants to help others who are struggling with mental health issues realise there are "people out there that care about them".

He added that while there's the "stigma" of people "thinking that you're weak", there are "a lot of people that will help you and a lot of people that won't judge you".

"If I can help change one person's life, I've succeeded," he said.

Anything above that is an absolute bonus.

"I want people to change their life and realise that there [are] people out there that care about them."