‘Thank you Northchapel and Petworth for helping armed forces veterans’

Training in Northchapel Village Hall
Training in Northchapel Village Hall

A dog assistance charity helping veterans from the Armed Forces to overcome post traumatic stress has paid tribute to the communities where rescue dogs are trained.

Service Dogs UK has been operating out of Northchapel and Petworth since Garry Botterill and Judith Broug set up the charity in 2015 and began helping veterans from the Armed Forces and emergency services to train the dogs to become their post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) assistance dogs.

“These dogs make all the difference to veterans who have been left with PTSD due to the service they have given,” said Garry. “Many struggled living a ‘normal’ life, before the programme. They were often socially and emotionally isolated. The smallest of tasks such as taking their children to the park or going to the shop for a pint of milk was a mountain to climb. Their days and nights could be filled with nightmares and frequent flashbacks which are mentally and physically exhausting.”

Lee, a fire service and army veteran did the training with Ajax: “He is my life saver”, he said. “We have been so fortunate to have outstanding support. First the Police Station at Petworth, then the village hall where the coordinator and caretaker have been very helpful. The Royal British Legion could not have been more accommodating and stepped up to help veterans in a practical way. We are now a familiar sight training the dogs around the town in Petworth, shopkeepers and cafes welcome us into their premises which helps with the training.”

The charity also relies on volunteers to foster the rescue dogs for two months when they initially get selected and are assessed for the programme.

Dogs are taught traditional assistance dog commands, but also to wake a veteran up from a nightmare, interrupt a ‘flashback’, provide comfort and reassurance in an anxiety attack, find an exit quickly and to get vital medication when needed.

“The veteran is given new skills, a new way of coping with their PTSD, independence and is once again part of a community.”

Service Dogs UK are looking for people in Petworth and surrounding areas to foster a trainee dog for four to eight weeks while they begin the programme.

Anyone would like to know more should visit the charity website here

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