A RESCUE dog is helping veteran Chris Kavanagh cope with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and plan for the future.

And thanks to the success of the union between Chris and American bulldog cross Ranger, the former infantryman will now be helping Rossendale Responsible Animal Rescue to launch a new project.

Chris, 27, from Haslingden, is a member of Veterans In Communities (VIC), a charity based in Bury Road in the town working with ex-service personnel and emergency services workers.

He said: “My whole family have an army background and I was born into the army. From a baby I lived on an army camp in Northern Ireland, so it was no surprise in May 2006 that I joined the First Battalion the Royal Irish Regiment.”

Chris served all over the world and for his last two years in the army he was a dog handler.

He suffered severe PTSD and anxiety after a number of incidents.

Three years ago when he left the army he struggled to cope. Not just because he was transitioning from the job to life on ‘Civvy Street’, but because army life was all he had ever known.

Chris moved to Haslingden following a relationship breakdown and began attending VIC more regularly.

Lucie Holland, a volunteer with the animal charity, said: “We know that in America a lot of veterans with PTSD are given dogs to help them with their rehabilitation and we approached VIC to see if it was something they would like to get involved with.

“We were told of a dog that was in the ‘pound’ at Pet Hotel in Hapton, he was very traumatised and had ‘shut-down’. No one had been allowed to go near him for days and the dog would not even leave the kennel he had been put in.”

VIC recommended Chris and when he went to the kennels the nine-month-old puppy took an instant liking for him, bounded over and licked his face. The two have been inseparable ever since.

Chris said: “Having Ranger has given me a purpose in life. We are helping each other.

“I was always brought up around dogs as a child and I wanted another because I knew it would make me get out and about and get me socialising.

“If I have to feed Ranger then I also have to feed myself. If I have to look after him then I also have to look after myself to make sure that I can care for him.”

Lucie said there had been a huge difference in Ranger in the two short weeks that he has lived with Chris.

Chris will now be helping the charity to rehome other abandoned dogs with veterans and he will be assisting with discipline and training sessions.

VIC admin officer Tracy Keir said: “I have noticed a big difference in Chris. He now comes into the centre and has a real air of confidence, a sense of pride and purpose and he can bring Ranger into the centre with him.”


Veteran Chris Kavanagh with Lucie Holland and rescue dog Ranger.

Veteran Chris Kavanagh with rescue dog Ranger.