Last July, the Service Dogs for Veterans Act was passed in the Senate, propelled by freshman Senator Al Franken of Minnesota and the Wounded Warrior K-9 Corps Act worked its’ way through the House, thanks to Congressman Ron Klein of Florida, authorizing the use of federal funds to help furnish animals as pet therapy and service animals to U.S. veterans suffering from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Service dogs are already provided to veterans who have lost their sight or who are physically disabled but these bills now cover pilot programs for psychiatric disorders, too. I have frequently commented in this blog about the “power of pets” for use as therapy animals and it is good news that the Government is recognizing their use to help former veterans, mostly from Iraq and Afghanistan reintegrate with society after they return home from combat. Horse therapy is being used in Davie, Florida as stress relievers and dogs’ roles as psychiatric service dogs include their being trained to dial 911, sense panic attacks before they start, activate lights, and provide protection if their guardian feels threatened. Dog companionship has also been shown to instill feelings of self-esteem, responsibility and optimism in those who care for pets and is also a vital component to the rehabilitation to the physically and mentally wounded vet. Watch this video from the New York Times for first-hand insight from the veterans being helped!
Since our mission at Brandy and Val is, “to do good where good is needed” we are also thrilled that some of the dogs being trained for these programs come from Puppies Behind Bars, an organization that uses prisoners to raise and train the dogs. Programs such as these serve the community at large not only in providing the dogs that help vets but they help with the rehabilitation of the inmates working with these animals. Seems like a lot of good is being done here.