A THERAPY dog once rescued from an Essex puppy farm is helping to improve the lives of patients at Southend Hospital.

Rolo, a four-year-old springer spaniel cross poodle, carries out weekly rounds to bring a ray of joy into the wards.

The Pets As Therapy dog featured on Channel 5’s The Dog Rescuers with owner Claire Dean and presenter Angellica Bell last night.

Rolo was one of 30 dogs and puppies rescued by the RSPCA in December 2013 from a puppy farm in South Ockenden.

He was extremely weak and poorly when he was taken in by the south Essex branch of the RSPCA.

More than four years later and Rolo has come on leaps and bounds from the sick, weak, frightened pup he once was.

After getting his second chance at life, the happy little dog has spent the last three years giving something back via Pets As Therapy.

Claire said: “Rolo is such a happy, friendly, loving dog that we knew he’d be an incredible asset to the Pets As Therapy team - and he’s proved a huge hit everywhere we work together.

“We visit Southend University Hospital every week to help patients on the road to recovery and bring them some comfort at, often, very difficult times.

“Rolo and I are also the first and only partnership allowed into the children’s ward which is incredibly humbling.

“We’ll visit specific patients who ask to see us and he brings joy to the patients as well as family members, visitors and the staff. It’s amazing to be there with him and see how much happiness he can bring to people, some of whom are facing life’s biggest challenges.”

Among those whose lives he is improving is Alan Brackett who suffered a brain haemorrhage during a Chelsea FC match at Stamford Bridge.

Son Richard said: Rolo brings him a bit of normality. He loves dogs, he’s got a dog at home. My dad is loving and Rolo’s loving it too.”

Presenter Angellica said: “Seeing Rolo and Claire at work at the hospital was incredible.”