Humane Association Wants Service Dog Program for Vets Restored
The American Humane Association is asking the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to reverse its decision to end a service dog program for soldiers with PTSD.
The American Humane Association (AHA) called on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs last week to reverse its suspension of a program reimbursing veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder who use service dogs.
“American Humane Association’s focus on animal-assisted therapy dates back to 1945 when we promoted therapy dogs as a means to help World War II veterans recover from the effects of war,” said AHA President and CEO Robin Ganzert in a statement. “We call on the VA and the United States Congress to stand up for our veterans and their families by continuing to reimburse veterans who suffer from PTSD for the cost of medically approved service dogs.”
The program was suspended after concerns that several dog-placement organizations participating in a VA-backed study were not providing adequate care for dogs and were producing aggressive animals.
VA spokesman Mark Ballesteros told The Atlantic that the VA is “developing a new plan to carry out this important research.”
The new policy ending veteran reimbursement goes into effect Friday.
AHA, which advocates for the humane treatment of children, pets, and farm animals, also researches and provides animal-assisted therapy services to the healthcare, child welfare, education, and military fields.
“PTSD service dogs are trained to perform specific tasks in order to help their owners manage their PTSD symptoms,” said Amy McCullough, national director of animal-assisted therapy at AHA. “We owe it to the brave men and women who served our country to help them adapt after their experiences, and the healing power of animals can be a tremendous resource.”
(U.S. Department of Defense)