PTSD-suffering Army Medic’s Assistance Dog Campaign backed by Gloucestershire’s CK9 School

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Summary: Gloucestershire dog training and rehoming centre CK9 School is supporting ex-army medic and PTSD sufferer Richard Mearns’ assistance dog campaign.

Body: CK9 School is hot on the heels of the assistance dog campaign launched by former Army medic Richard Mearns, and has called for increased awareness of these working dogs and more support for soldiers with PTSD.

Mr Mearns was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in 2009. He was deployed to Iraq in 2003, and his work as a medic exposed him to horrific casualties that led to the condition.

Veterans with Dogs introduced Mr Mearns to Ziggy, a Labrador that is trained to help him calm down when his PTSD causes flashbacks or anxiety. This proved to be life-changing, and Mr Mearns has now launched a campaign to improve public awareness of assistance dogs and strengthen regulations.

The law around assistance dogs is vague, so Mr Mearns aims to bring about a central database for assistance dogs, to create regulations for assistance dog trainers, and for local authorities to take responsibility when there are breaches of the law.

He also he is also working on an awareness program to assist business train their staff and is soon to launch a petition.

Assistance Dogs (UK), a registered charity, called current laws “confusing and unworkable” and said that “rogue” operators are putting dogs and their owners at risk.

Furthermore, even with existing legal protections, Mr Mearns has been refused access to shops on several occasions this year alone – a situation he describes as causing even-higher anxiety, as well as embarrassment and a loss of confidence.

Carl Gerrard, of Gloucestershire dog training and rehoming centre CK9School, said: “We are proud to be supporting this much-needed campaign.

“Former soldiers and other army personnel need all the support we can give them, as do other people with mental health problems, but mental health support in this country can often be flimsy.

“Assistance dogs are just one of the many ways we could be helping people with mental health problems.

“It’s frustrating to hear that Mr Mearns and Ziggy are having obstacles put in the way to good mental health.

“We are proud to give our full support to this campaign.”

Mr Mearns said: “The #NotJustADog campaign is happening to encourage lawmakers and businesses to make an effective change as the current statute is too unclear. It is clear that service users need the support of legislation but they also need the support of businesses. I invite local and national businesses to contact me and join this campaign.”

Notes for editors

CK9 School (https://www.ck9school.co.uk/) is based in Gloucestershire and provides dog training and rehoming facilities. Their address is 2 Centrum Parks, Tewkesbury Road, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, GL519FD and their email address is booking@ckcastles.co.uk.

Mr Mearns’ and Ziggy’s website is https://allaroundziggy.com/. They can be found on Twitter at https://twitter.com/AssistanceZiggy and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AssistanceZiggy/ .

Assistance Dogs (UK) is a registered charity no: 1119538. Their website is https://www.assistancedogs.org.uk/

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