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Caremark Redcar and Cleveland is having to train more dog handlers to keep up with demand for its animal assisted therapy service.

And one of our customers has spoken about the positive impact the service has had on her own health and wellbeing.

To enable more people to benefit from interaction with canine companions, we have added two new members to our dog handling team.

It comes less than a year after we first launched the service.

The service was originally aimed just at Caremark customers, but after securing funding through NHS England and Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council, it has been extended so other people could benefit too.

This includes people living in care homes, those who attend day centres, schools, and a children’s hospice.

In total, there are currently five dogs which have officially been signed off as Pets as Therapy (PAT) dogs.

They are Labradors Red, Chance, Emmie, and Axel, and Cockapoo Wilma who was added to the training team at the request of some customers who said they would like a dog who could sit on their lap.

Another Labrador, Shadow, will also shortly become part of the team once he completes his training.

The dogs, who are all owned by Caremark Redcar and Cleveland Managing Director Michelle Jackson, were initially taken to meet customers by dog handlers Kelly Brierley and Lisa Chorlton. Two new members of staff, former carers Millie Tinsley and Karen Keen – have now also taken over handling duties.

And in Karen’s case she was so inspired by the service that she had bought a new dog, Labradoodle Marley, with the intention of him becoming the seven PAT dog.

Caremark Redcar and Cleveland Managing Director Michelle Jackson said: “It’s been incredible to see the animal assisted therapy service grow so quickly and that’s why we have taken on more dog handlers so even more people get to benefit from the interaction with them.

“Whether it’s a home visit to someone who is bedbound, through to people who are now accessing the community for the first time in years because of the dogs, the service is making a massive difference to lives.”

One of the Caremark Redcar and Cleveland customers who has benefited from the animal assisted therapy is Linda Jones.

A former teacher and charity volunteer, Linda developed physical health conditions and during Covid, having been advised to shield, she became isolated, and her mental health also started to suffer.

Initially, she received traditional home-based care but after a flyer about the animal assisted therapy service came through her door, she started to go out into the community with Red the dog and handler Lisa Chorlton and the three have now become inseparable.

Linda says: “Red is the most gorgeous, caring, affectionate and calm dog and his gentle encouragement makes it easier for me to go outside for adventures with Lisa.

“Everyone comes up to talk Red and I can talk to them from that, so he has played a vital part in improving my health and wellbeing.”

People in the community who are interested in the dogs coming to their home, care home, day centre or any other venue, can contact Caremark on 01287 634706 or email


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