In-house welfare dogs’ project started at the East of England Ambulance Service Trust
2023 saw the GoodDOGs project take off at the East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST) in partnership with Canine Concern. The idea of having in-house welfare dogs had initially been proposed by a staff member in 2019 and approved, but sadly the pandemic and other unplanned factors meant it struggled to get off the ground.
After hearing about the Cambridgeshire Police welfare dogs, Amanda Harris picked up the project alongside her main role at EEAST and things finally started to move. The ground work was laid, the project branded and on 5th April 2023, Lennie and Togo passed their assessments and became the first EEAST GoodDOGs.
From those early days, the project has grown from strength to strength. Amanda Harris, now able to assess the dogs on behalf of EEAST, has completed assessments across the region (Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire) and as a result, we now have over twenty GoodDOGs. Enquiries still continue to come through and we are increasing our number of in-house assessors to be able to continue to expand the offering.
The project has been really well received with great feedback from staff. The GoodDOGs visit various locations, including our main headquarters, the emergency operations’ centres and ambulance stations across the six counties. We’ve even been part of the Welfare Wagon pilot. The Welfare Wagon is a van that can travel to our staff at any location in our region (including hospitals) and provide a place to go for any wellbeing matters, including signposting to services or a cup of tea and a biscuit. The GoodDOGs were a great hit, with much of the feedback received by the organisers including calls for more dogs.
Canine Concern Comments
It has been very exciting working with Amanda and her team to get this project up and running. There have been lots of Health and Safety hoops to jump through, but the staff volunteers and their dogs have been amazing. We have seen so many amazing results from having the right, properly assessed dog available for debriefing after traumatic incidents as well as a way to help deal with the normal stress experienced by these hard working paramedics. Thank you, Amanda, and team.