A DOG from Hook who provides vital support to veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder has been honoured by a vet charity.

8-year-old Cocker Spaniel Jerry was one of five canines to receive the prodigious PDSA Order of Merit at a special ceremony in London on July 14.

The prestigious award, which was presented by PDSA patron HRH Princess Alexandra, celebrates extraordinary animals who demonstrate the bond between animals and humans.

Jerry’s owner, 60-year-old Mark Lanchbery, suffered serious, life-changing injuries while serving with the British Army in 2008.

Basingstoke Gazette: Jerry and Mark LanchberyJerry and Mark Lanchbery

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After a visit to a Help the Heroes’ recovery centre, Mark met a friend with a PTSD assistance dog, prompting him to investigate the possibility of having a support dog of his own.

Jerry and Mark trained with Service Dogs UK (SDUK), a charity which trains and provides PTSD Assistance Dogs for veterans of the armed forces and emergency services.

After nine months of intensive coaching, Mark and Jerry became a fully qualified assistance dog team and now mentors other service dogs and veteran pairings.

Watching Jerry receive the PDSA Order of Merit, Mark said: “We have had an amazing day and it is wonderful to see Jerry get the recognition he deserves after he has given so much to help others.

“Thanks to him, and Service Dogs UK, myself and many other veterans from the Armed Forces and emergency services have a reason to start living our lives and to laugh and smile once again.”

Basingstoke Gazette: Jerry and Mark alongside other award recipientsJerry and Mark alongside other award recipients

The citation for Jerry’s award reads: ‘For life-changing devotion to his owner Mark Lanchbery as a PTSD Assistance Dog and for his work as a veteran mentor with Service Dogs UK.’

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Founder of Service Dogs UK Garry Botterill added: “Jerry is an incredible assistance dog for Mark and is a shining example to our other dogs and veterans of what can be achieved.

“He has an inspirational character and embodies the charity and the standards we strive to achieve.

“We are hugely honoured that Jerry has received the PDSA Order of Merit and are very thankful for his service, providing a ‘beacon of hope’ for veterans with PTSD in the UK.”

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