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Dog Therapy Bill for PTSD Vets




In an article written by Sharon L. Peters titled, “Man’s best friend could soon be veteran’s best friend,” she reports that a bill has been introduced in the House of Representatives to help veterans receive rehabilitation and re-entry assistance through certified dog therapy.

Known as H.R. 3885, the Veterans Dog Training Therapy Act will be a pilot program, focusing on PTSD or other mental health conditions of troubled veterans with the help of trained service dogs. Over a five year period, the program would develop three to five medical centers at a cost of $7 million dollars.

vet_therapy_dog

Credit: istockphoto/© clearstockconcepts

Each facility would require one certified dog trainer and two recreation therapists, with one director and one recreation therapist over the entire program.  It is set up to not affect the budgets of tribal governments, local or state finances. Five service dogs are trained every two years, with the trained therapy dog to go to disabled vets.

Another plan by Rep. Michael Grimm, R-N.Y. is for PTSD vets to received instructions on training their own dogs. But both plans encourages using shelter dogs if possible.Mental health war wounds of vets like PTSD, anxiety, physical disabilities, depression and TBI have been treated successfully with several dog therapy services  throughout the armed forces.

Additional dog therapy programs

~ Dog Tags

Soldiers at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center work with troubled shelter dogs, with many cruelty cases, twice a week for several weeks in a program called Dog Tags.  Six soldiers in three learning levels work at the Washington shelter for two hours of hands-on training twice a week.

Over 50 dogs have benefited from the program, adopted quicker because they are more well-behaved.  The soldiers who worked with them said that in the process, they also were healed.  Many of the vets are now working in veterinarian offices and other shelters.

~ Operation Heroes and Hounds

Dog trainer Tamar  Geller purchases death row behavioral dogs in shelters for $200 to help wounded Marines at Camp  in a California program called “Operation Heroes and Hounds.”  In 2008, they linked with “New Directions” to transition veterans into civilian life. Veterans follow Geller’s positive methods of dog training.

“The veterans learn new ways of approaching things,” Geller says. “They feel pride, rightfully, over what they’ve accomplished with the dogs. They see they can make a difference.”  (USA Today)

~ Military Advanced Training Center at Walter Reed

Severely disabled veterans receive rehabilitation and stress relief through the assistance of certified therapy dogs.  Not only are the soldiers receiving advanced medical technologies but are able to survive devastating injuries through the assistance of advanced dog therapy.

“Service dogs are 24/7 companions that can retrieve and carry objects, open doors, call attention to safety hazards, help with stress and balance difficulties, and provide a bridge back to society.”  (Healing Paws)

Websites for Wounded Warriors who receive dog therapy assistance.

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A special thank you to Robert McCarty from Barking Planet Blog who sent this information to us about a bill for a new government-supported program of dogs helping PTSD vets called the  “Veterans Dog Training Therapy Act.”  It had been sent to him from a friend who has had two tours in Vietnam working with vets. We hope you enjoy it and it changes your lives,helping you to better focus on how to help.



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  • Linda Merz

    I am a retired animal cop, shelter director(s), and educator. I am also a researcher re: the relationship between animal cruelty and predatory violence and a published author (“Cruelty to Animals: Pathway to Violence against People”, co-authored by Dr. Kathleen Heide. I continue to conduct research and serve as a resource for various advocacy groups. I am the former spouse of a military officer (20 years) and understand quite well the challenges and sacrifices of military life. Ironically, I suffer from PTSD for all the animal lives I had to authorize be taken due to over-population and pursuant to the cruelty cases I conducted. If I can be a resource to your noble cause, please contact me. I reside in WA state near the Vancouver VA Center and there are numerous shelter/rescue resources located in southwest WA and the Portland, OR area. I have a MA in Criminal Justice from the University of South Florida, Tampa, FL. Thank you.

    • WayCoolDogs

      Dear Linda,
      Thank you very much for your email. Would it be possible for you to do a guest post on your PTSD due to over-euthanazing animal lives? That is a field that people do not realize affects people, which I know personally that it does. Anything else you can think of would be more than welcome.

      Thank you,
      Nancy Houser

    • Chuck

      Hi Linda,

      I checked out the websites you suggested. Am very interested in hearing more…
      Chuck Beeler

  • cynthia

    We have been approached by a foundation that is raising money for a dog to assist a vet with ptsp. The price of the dog is $ 17,000 which seems very expensive to us. What is an appropriate price and the availability of such dogs.

    Any advise is appreciated.

    • WayCoolDogs

      Yes, I agree….it seems very expensive.We are assisting a young man from the military who has a therapy dog. I will ask him some questions and get back to you.

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