Animal Partnership Award Finalists 2023
An award to honour the unique relationships and companionship provided by animals, and/or the achievements of individuals or organisations engaged with animals that support and empower members of the Armed Forces community.
In partnership with Pets at Home.
The winner of this award category is decided by public vote. Scroll to the bottom of the page to cast your vote!
Vote closes 23:59 on 6th August 2023.
Introducing the Finalists...
Battling On's Veterans and Milo their Care Dog
Milo, a small, plucky Cockapoo, lives at the Battling On Care Farm in South East Cornwall where the charity provides wraparound care and support to veterans struggling with civilian life.
Milo, like the veterans he works with, came to the centre traumatised and broken. By day, he was happy and affectionate but, as soon as it got dark, he would attack anyone who went near him. Battling On was approached as his last chance since the rescue centres could not place a vicious dog. Nobody knows what trauma little Milo went through at night that so scared him, but the staff at Battling On have all witnessed his transformation into a wonderful, happy, little dog that spends his days making veterans happy.
Milo is always the first to greet new veterans to the site, instinctively knowing when someone needs support and planting himself by their side. If they need time out, he will happily break away from his duties to go for a walk or sit on their lap being cuddled.
On occasions, Milo has visited veterans who have reached out in despair on the point of suicide. He sits quietly as he is hugged, giving his veteran an anchor to hold onto whilst they talk, addressing their fears and sharing their pain as they start on the road to recovery.
Milo has become the veterans’ mascot and their best friend.
Jonathon Giemza-Pipe and Baxter (Canine Partner)
Jonathon Giemza-Pipe was medically discharged in 2016 after 22 years in the Army, and really struggled to regain direction in his life. During the early days of his rehabilitation a therapist suggested he apply for an Assistance Dog. The process was long and at times Jonathon feared it would come to nought.
However, nothing could have prepared him for the incredible impact his canine partners would have on his life! Baxter (and his predecessor Toby) changed Jonathon’s entire outlook, and it’s in no small part thanks to them that he was able to get back on track.
Jonathon decided that he wanted to help other veterans navigate their mental health issues, and the Veterans’ Mental Health and Wellbeing Service, run by Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, gave him the opportunity to put his experiences to good use as a Veterans’ Peer Support Worker.
Wherever he goes, Baxter is with him – from crossing by ferry from the Isle of Wight, to Veteran Drop-Ins in Bicester, he’s there! Without him, Jonathon says, he wouldn’t be doing what he is today – Baxter is chief confidant, stress reliever, best friend, and scourge of any carrots left lying around!
Pete Lewin Newfoundlands
Pete Lewin Newfoundlands is a non-profit organisation that offers emotional support to people who may benefit from swimming and interaction with Newfoundland dogs. It offers this support to front-line emergency services staff, military veterans, and those struggling with their mental health. The charity is run by Pete Lewin, a paramedic with over 30 years’ experience in the East Midlands Ambulance Service, who has seen his fair share of mental ill-health.
Over the course of each day, numerous swimming activities and techniques are shared, as well as exercises in trust-building and the like. Participants get to know the Newfoundland dogs and are guaranteed a good night’s sleep after a day of fresh air and cold-water swimming with them.
Over Summer 2022, 60 members of the Armed Forces community – including serving soldiers from 7th Infantry Brigade – were supported thanks to funding of £6000 secured from Leicestershire County Council. Last year, The One Show ran a story of a woman who was contemplating taking her own life. Thankfully, on the day in question, she chose to go to the lake for the emotional support swim hosted by Pete. The connection with the dogs, with other people, and with nature, stopped her from making a huge mistake.
Vote for your winner!
Animal Partnership Award
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