Fareham service dog shortlisted for national accolade in city's Animal Star Awards

A PTSD sufferer’s service dog has been shortlisted for a national accolade in a Portsmouth animal award series.

By Hollie Busby
Sunday, 27th February 2022, 4:55 pm

Kerry Snuggs, who founded Fareham and Gosport charity Acts of Kindness, is the proud owner of Bertie, an eight-year-old spaniel, who was paired up with her three years ago after she had a breakdown and says he ‘basically saved her life’.

‘Caring’ Bertie, who was rescued by Dogs Trust before he found his forever home, was recently shortlisted in the ‘Inspirational Dog Award’ category for the Animal Star Awards for not just supporting owner Kerry, but for helping people during the pandemic as a support dog at her charity.

The Animal Star Awards was set up by Mary Burgess from Emsworth in 2016 and gives recognition to animals and humans alike who do extraordinary things for one another.

Kerry Snuggs with her service dog Bertie.

Kerry was a serving police officer for 21 years and was forced to retire after suffering a life-changing injury on duty.

She soon saw her mental health deteriorate and needed that calming companion to ease her debilitating anxiety along with frequent nightmares she was experiencing as someone with post traumatic stress disorder.

Speaking to The News she said: ‘He basically saved my life. You can’t underestimate the power of a dog.

‘He's given me my freedom back, I've learned to be sociable again. The worry is still there but it's alleviated a little bit because of him.’

Charity Dog’s Trust saw the potential for Bertie to be a service dog after Service Dogs UK visited and realised he’d be suitable to be put through the relevant training.

Kerry is over the moon that he’s even been shortlisted.

She adds: ‘He was a rescue so for him to achieve an accolade is fantastic.

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‘He's enabled me to be able to carry on the charity work that I do. I nearly gave it up but he came into my life and it changed everything.’

Kerry felt isolated for about a year after her injury and her nightmares got so bad that it reached the stage where she was struggling to leave the house.

But after teaming up with Bertie, Kerry found he significantly eased her bouts of anxiety.

The founder said: ‘My nightmares were terrible from being a police officer so he wakes me up from nightmares and he puts me at ease going into crowded places.

‘He creates space when people come towards me. He's not got an aggressive nature at all but he just places himself in front of me to show that actually I don't like people up close and personal.’

Dogs and their owners hail from all over the UK to compete in the Animal Star Awards so to be shortlisted, Kerry says it feel ‘so special’.

The awards will take place on Saturday, March 5 at The Village Hotel in Portsmouth from 6.30pm.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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