Mearns has launched the #NotJustADog campaign that aims to increase awareness of working assistance dogs and provide more support for soldiers with PTSD.
After being deployed to Iraq in 2003, Mearns was diagnosed with PTSD in 2009. Veterans with Dogs introduced him to Ziggy, a Labrador trained to calm and comfort those suffering from flashbacks.
Inspired by his experiences, Mearns now hopes to create a central database for assistance dogs, as well as create regulations for assistance dog trainers and encourage local authorities to take responsibility when there are breaches of the law.
Assistance Dogs UK said that current laws regarding assistance dogs were “confusing and unworkable”, and warned that “rogue” operators could endanger dogs and owners.
Carl Gerrard, who works at the CK9School, said: “We are proud to be supporting this much-needed campaign.
“Former soldiers and other army personnel need all the support we can give them, as do other people with mental health problems, but mental health support in this country can often be flimsy.”
He added: “Assistance dogs are just one of the many ways we could be helping people with mental health problems.
“It’s frustrating to hear that Mr Mearns and Ziggy are having obstacles put in the way to good mental health. We are proud to give our full support to this campaign.”
Mearns said: “The #NotJustADog campaign is happening to encourage lawmakers and businesses to make an effective change as the current statute is too unclear. It is clear that service users need the support of legislation but they also need the support of businesses. I invite local and national businesses to contact me and join this campaign.”