Volunteers needed to help foster service dogs for veterans

Foster carers for assistance dogs are needed in Suffolk

Foster carers for assistance dogs are needed in Suffolk - Credit: Garry Botterill of Service Dogs UK

Suffolk dog lovers are being asked to help foster rescue dogs so they can help veterans. 

Service Dogs UK, an assistance dog charity currently based in West Sussex, is set to open a new base north of Ipswich in the new year.


Volunteers are needed to help service dogs assist veterans

Volunteers are needed to help service dogs assist veterans - Credit: Garry Botterill of Service Dogs UK

The charity partners rescue dogs with veterans of the armed forces and emergency services with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and supports them through their dog training and beyond.

The charity uses adult dogs for the training rather than puppies and selects them on the basis of the potential ability to become assistance dogs. 

Before the dogs can be partnered up with a veteran, they are fostered by local volunteers for up to 12 weeks.

The dogs will help veterans with PTSD

The dogs will help veterans with PTSD - Credit: Garry Botterill of Service Dogs UK

It's these volunteers that the charity is hoping to find in Suffolk for its new branch. 

Once they've spent time with the volunteers, the dogs will then embark on a nine month training programme along with their veteran partner to teach the dogs to become assistance dogs under the close guidance of the charity.

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Once trained the dogs can help their owners with a number of situations including nightmares, flashbacks, zoning out, anxiety and panic attacks. 

It's hoped that by using mainly rescue dogs the charity can help improve the lives of both the dogs and their new owners.

Garry Botterill, co-founder and director of Service Dogs UK said “It is a challenging but incredible journey and it has been so successful in West Sussex we expanded into Somerset last month and will be in Suffolk in the new year.

"We are proud of our community-based approach and are looking forward to training our dogs locally as we work to help our veterans re-build their confidence and social skills.

"The life blood of our charity is our dog fosters, we would love to hear from anyone who is at home for most of the day and who would like to foster one of our dogs.”

As well as looking for volunteers to foster dogs, the charity's new Suffolk team will also be looking for a volunteer dog trainer to assist them at the new venue.

Those interested in taking up this role are asked to get in touch by emailing getintouch@servicedogsuk.org

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