Emotion guide dog saves Sheffield woman’s life

Liz Hoyland, who suffers with depression and anxiety, with her two dogs Bonnie and Ninja, as she is campaigning for people with mental health problems to have guide dogs
Liz Hoyland, who suffers with depression and anxiety, with her two dogs Bonnie and Ninja, as she is campaigning for people with mental health problems to have guide dogs
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A woman with severe depression is campaigning for people with mental health issues to be allowed guide dogs – after her canine companions prevented a suicide attempt.

Liz Hoyland, aged 21, who battles anxiety, depression, psychosis and night terrors, said her two dogs have ‘helped so much in the darkest moments’ and believes they could assist millions of people.

Not only do her dogs give Liz the confidence to overcome her anxiety and leave the house – she says they can even predict when she is about to have a panic attack.

Liz, of Richmond, said she could not live without Staffordshire bull terrier Ninja, six, and bulldog Bonnie, three.

She said: “Ninja is my saviour. She has been with me through some extremely dark moments. At my lowest point, the only reason I didn’t commit suicide is because she was there and would not leave my side.

“She is so in-tune with me. She can tell if my moods is about to change, before it even happens.

“When we are out in public, I look at Ninja and can tell by the way she is acting that I am about to have a panic attack. She is amazing, I love her to pieces.”

Now Liz is campaigning for people with mental health problems to be allowed dogs, as is already the case in the United States.

Liz, who began suffering mental health issues four years ago, said: “In America they are called emotional support animals. They have a similar status to guide dogs for the blind here, but are for people with disabilities, psychiatric issues, mental health problems.

“People in the UK can face problems finding accommodation that allows dogs and many public places only allow guide dogs, which you could say is discriminatory.

“I was very surprised to find that there was nothing of the sort as it would help millions of people.”

n To find out more visit www.scas.org.uk/mental-health-and-dogs