Walker walks for PDSA!

30 March 2023

Kent firefighter goes extra mile in memory of family pet

A firefighter from Hoo put his best foot forward to raise vital funds for PDSA in memory of his family dog Rocco who died earlier this year.

Luke Walker (30) walked 14 miles, more than half a marathon, in full firefighting uniform raising an impressive £560 for PDSA who looked after his dog, American Bulldog Rocco, before he died.  

“We lost our family dog Rocco earlier this year and it’s the worst thing I’ve ever been through,” he said. “PDSA were amazing throughout so I wanted to do something to say thank you to them but also honour Rocco’s memory.

“If it wasn’t for PDSA, I’m not sure what we would have done.

“I don’t earn very much in the fire service and my partner is a stay at home mum so we’d struggle to afford the veterinary bills.

“We can’t thank PDSA enough for all they did to try and help Rocco. We knew he was in the best place!” 

The father-of-two raised £560 and counting in the challenge. 

“Our uniform is very heavy, and it gets hot in there, so you can imagine how difficult the walk was,” he laughed. “But I did it, despite the bad weather, and we raised some much-needed funds for PDSA in Rocco’s memory.”

Luke lives in Hoo with his partner Paegan (28), their six-year-old daughter Neveah and three-year-old son Reggie.

“It’s been a hard few weeks for us all,” he added. “The kids don’t really understand it at the moment. We’ve told them Rocco is a star in the sky, so we look up at night and say goodnight to him. We all miss him so much.”

Luke and his family made the difficult decision to have Rocco put to sleep earlier this year.  

“Rocco was losing weight, not eating and became lethargic,” he explained. “The PDSA team ran some tests and kept him in overnight for supervision.

“He deteriorated quite quickly and it was awful to see. The vets said it could have been a serious form of pancreatitis or even or even sepsis. The team explained to us that he was in a bad way, and you could see he was struggling to breathe.

“That’s when we had to decide it was the right time to let him go.”

Luke said despite how difficult the time was, he was so thankful for everyone at PDSA.

Amy Wareing-Reid fundraising manager at PDSA, said: “We’re all so sorry to hear about Rocco and the difficult time the Walker family has had. But we’re very thankful to Luke for choosing to take on a challenge like this for PDSA in memory of his boy, Rocco. His generous fundraising efforts will enable us to continue our work, treating pets whose owners have nowhere else to turn. It is thanks to the incredible support of kind-hearted people like Luke that we are able to provide vital treatment for poorly animals and make a real difference to their owners.”

PDSA supports owners who would otherwise struggle to provide essential, and often life-saving, treatment for their pets as it believes no animal should have to suffer pain or ill-health as a result of financial or social hardship.

The rising cost of fuel, food, and household bills is putting increasing pressure on homes across the UK and, as the financial squeeze tightens, demand for its services is expected to rise.

As of 2022, more than half (53%) of PDSA’s clients are aged 55 and over and 37% of clients are disabled or living with a serious health condition. 16% of clients are employed and 32% not working, including those who are stay at home parents or unable to work due to illness or disability.

If you are on benefits and live near one of PDSA’s Pet Hospitals or Pet Care Practices​ you may qualify for free or low cost pet care. Find out via the charity’s eligibility checker: pdsa.org.uk/pet-help-and-advice/eligibility

PDSA relies on donations to deliver life-saving treatment to hundreds of thousands of pets across its 48 Pet Hospitals in the UK. To keep families together, the charity is urgently calling on the public’s support more than ever to prevent vulnerable people having to make a truly heart-breaking decision. To find out more about PDSA’s vital work during the cost-of-living crisis, or to donate, visit www.pdsa.org.uk/costoflovingcrisis.

If you’d like to donate to Luke’s fundraising challenge, visit: https://gofund.me/767a9134

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