Service Dogs UK is the UK’s leading assistance dog charity for veterans suffering with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
The charity trains and provides PTSD assistance dogs to support members of the Armed Forces and Emergency Services (including Coast Guard, RNLI and UKSAR). The dogs are all carefully selected rescue dogs. Veterans form a close bond with their dog, helping them to help each other and changing both of their lives for the better.
How does it work?
Service Dogs UK is unique in its approach. The charity partners rescue dogs with the veterans who train them (under its supervision) over a nine-month period. Working positively with dogs has a profound effect on veterans’ wellbeing. The close relationship helps mitigate some of the symptoms of PTSD, giving many the chance to lead a happier life. Many of these veterans have already tried every type of counselling and therapy available. But, they often find that working with a dog is the most effective way to help them through their trauma.
Service Dogs UK has achieved candidate status for Assistance Dogs International and, in 2018, won the Animal Partnership category at the prestigious Soldiering On Awards.
How we’re helping Service Dogs UK
The Trust has supported Service Dogs UK from its early days, awarding an initial grant of £10,000 and subsequent grants of £5,000 per year across three years – a total of £25,000. These grants have been used to help the charity provide training for both dogs and their new owners.
Once such owner is veteran Kerry (top image) who is full of praise for the charity and the team who support her. A year ago, she was in a desperate state, trying to find help with her PTSD.
“Thank goodness I found Service Dogs UK who understood everything I was going through,” she says, although she wasn’t entirely convinced that an assistance dog was the solution to her problems.
“I thought, what on earth can a dog to alleviate this awful feeling? Little did I know the huge impact it has and how Bert (assistance spaniel, above) and the programme have changed everything for me and my family. Bert came home in August but it feels like he’s been here far longer. Love this boy so very much! Very emotional to realise how far I’ve come in a year!”
According to Service Dogs UK’s Garry Botterill, the help the charity received from the Trust during its early days was vital:
“Petplan Charitable Trust gave us the ‘cushion’ that allowed us to concentrate on our work and provided the continuity we needed by providing further funds that helped us plan the following years. This was so important to us as a young charity. We are very grateful for the help and support that has given us the opportunity to flourish and help more veterans.”
“Petplan Charitable Trust recognised early on that what we were doing was important,” adds Judith Broug. “They helped the charity to grow. That kind of support for a start-up charity is so precious. We truly appreciate the fantastic support that has helped transform the lives of veterans and rescue dogs.”
Watch a video about veteran Steven and his dog, Colt.