Showcase February 2024

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.

Togo lapping up the attention of staff at Norwich Emergency Operations Centre

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.

Tom Abell (Chief Executive Officer) and Franklin
There is a lot planned for the future of the project, including filling some of the gaps in the region to make sure we can offer our GoodDOGs in every area. We also hope that this will mean greater availability for us to be able to be on call to assist with traumatic incident debriefings. Our GoodDOG volunteers are very much part of our EEAST team and we love watching our team grow!
Moose getting some love from staff in Essex
We are so grateful for all the support from Canine Concern, specifically Valerie for helping us get this off the ground. We’ve learnt a lot throughout this first year of the project and there’s more to be done but I’m very excited to keep the momentum going and see what 2024 will bring for us.

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.