A unique charity that uses dogs to help forces veterans and members of the emergency services cope with the effects of PTSD is proving hugely successful.
Service Dogs UK was set up two years ago and now partners rescue dogs with mentally wounded individuals.
Our reporter Shirley Swain has been to visit the charity at one of their training venues in the village of Petworth.
She met Mark, a former serviceman, whose dog is a crucial part of how he deals with the challenges of PTSD.
"It's made my life so much better. I feel me again, I can laugh and smile and if I'm a little bit down then he cheers me up."
These highly trained dogs are helping those suffering from PTSD because they make great companions and can play an important role during panic attacks.
"I can't really think where I'd be without him but I know where I am with him."
LISTEN to the Forces Radio report below...
Pairing a veteran with the right rescue dog can take a year of training but this time is essential for the development of the unique theraputic relationship.
Service Dogs UK's mission statement is:
"We will continue to support the partnerships as part of our ongoing commitment to ‘those that serve’, past or present."
The co-founder of the charity is Royal Navy veteran, now frontline Police Sergeant, Garry Botterill. He says that setting up Service Dogs UK has helped so many already.
“It’s great that the veterans are gaining independence, they are doing things they haven’t done before, they are re-integrating with society because the dog acts a furry friendly barrier at times but also starts a conversation. When they haven’t been able to come of their shells the dogs are a none threatening way to communicate with people.”
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