Companion Dogs For Veterans

August 31, 2020

FOR THE past 15,000 years, dogs have been considered man’s best friend.

Like us humans, dogs are social animals that seek affection and attention. Dogs have long been our companions, co-workers, guards, protectors and helpers.

It is mental health service dogs which are a rising profile in the veterans’ community as their value in the assistance to those with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), panic disorders, anxiety, and major depression is becoming more and more apparent.

On August 5, the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs (DVA), Darren Chester, announced an increase in the availability of psychiatric assistance dogs to veterans with the addition of two new providers to the Government’s Psychiatric Assistance Dog Program, the Royal Society for the Blind of South Australia and Integra Service Dogs Australia. The Minister said this was an important program to help veterans manage their PTSD, with feedback received so far from veterans and their families that it is making an amazing difference.

“We have seen the positive outcomes from this program with veterans already sharing a special bond with their psychiatric assistance dogs, making a remarkable difference to their everyday life. These dogs are specially trained to perform specific tasks to help their owner when experiencing symptoms of PTSD, such as a night terror, and helping veterans to reach their clinical recovery goals.” Mr Chester said.

The DVA Psychiatric Assistance Dog Program began in 2019 to provide assistance to eligible veterans in the treatment and management of PTSD. Through this program contracted providers are able to supply specially trained dogs to perform tasks contributing to a veteran’s recovery.

While service dogs are not a ‘silver bullet’ in the treatment of PTSD and other mental aliments. there is evidence these dogs can help the sufferer achieve greater self sufficiency, reduce levels of anxiety and stress and assist them to cope better with day to day situations.

The body of research into the use of mental health service dogs is growing and DVA is continuing to evaluate the effectiveness of psychiatric assistance dogs in the treatment of PTSD through a partnership with La Trobe University.

Early feedback from veterans who have trialled the dogs has been overwhelmingly positive. While many other countries identify the value of mental health service dogs, Australian veterans are better supported in this area than their counterparts in many countries.

If eligible and accepted for this program, DVA will cover most of the costs through the program including the training and supply of the psychiatric assistance dog.

The United States has been using service dogs since the end of World War I, initially as guide dogs for the blind, however soon expanding into the area of mental health assistance. Although in the US the use of mental health service dogs is widespread, the US Veteran’s Administration does not cover the cost of the dog or for boarding, grooming, food or other routine expense associated with owning the dog however it does cover veterinary expenses.

Integra Service Dogs Australia’s chair, Brigadier Mark Holmes AM MVO (Ret’d), said Integra has a proud history of delivering one of the highest quality assistance dog programs to veterans and first responders in Australia.

“This initiative announced by Minister Chester in 2019 is a great step forward in allowing more veterans to gain access to professional and accredited assistance dog services. We look forward to expanding our service to continue our mission of supporting those who serve,” Brigadier Holmes said.

  • Most Recent News

    Police Force Gets Therapy Dog

    December 2, 2020

    During these stressful times, a local police department is making changes. The North Tonawanda Police Department is expanding and reaching out to the community like never before. Their newest and most popular officer… has four legs. Police dogs come in all breeds, shapes and sizes. Some K9’s are tasked with finding drugs, others find people… […]

    Read more

    Schools Intervention Dog

    December 2, 2020

    Kingston Secondary School will be getting a new staff member before the end of the 2020-21 school year with the addition of Indie, a black standard poodle. Indie, working with adolescent care worker Emma-Jane Hamilton, will be the first intervention dog placed within a Limestone District School Board school. “My job is to support students […]

    Read more

    NY Shelter Aniamls On Thanksgiving

    December 2, 2020

    About 80 dogs and over 150 cats at the Stevens Swan Humane Society in Utica, NY got a special Thanksgiving meal last week thanks to local couple Rob and Hillary Dunn. Rob has worked at the no-kill shelter for the past nine years and Hillary has volunteered there for the past five. The shelter is […]

    Read more

    Oscar The Blind Dog

    November 25, 2020

    In the weeks leading up to a heated presidential election, another close race played out that had dog lovers across the country faithfully voting online every 24 hours for their favorite furry friends. For four weeks, from Sept. 10 to Oct. 9, nearly 1 million votes were cast in Garden & Gun magazine’s Good Dog […]

    Read more

    Genius Dog Challenge

    November 25, 2020

    Six dogs are competing to become the world’s smartest dog – a title reserved for the pooch that learns words the fastest. Shany Dror is a driving force behind the Genius Dog Challenge, which is live streamed on Facebook and YouTube every week until December 16, when the winner will be announced. The canine challenge […]

    Read more

    Finding Homes For Dogs

    November 25, 2020

    Adoptable Animal Rescue Force gives back to the community by finding the right homes for dogs. We’ve been a Teller County nonprofit, no-kill rescue since 1999. Social networking has allowed us to expand our services in recent years to include dogs coming in from high kill shelters in New Mexico and Texas. There are times […]

    Read more

    Service Dog Retiring

    November 25, 2020

    Talking to police or giving testimony at a courthouse, can be a scary experience for many. Since 2014, service dogs have been allowed in the courtroom to provide emotional support for those in need. For Emery Baert, having Madison with her made a huge difference. “If she wasn’t there, to this day, I wouldn’t know […]

    Read more

    A Shelter Dog's Life

    November 25, 2020

    The sound of paws and claws precedes Isabella’s entrance. She bursts out of the Worcester Animal Rescue League’s front door, dragging Sara McClure, WARL’s dog program coordinator, behind her. McClure has two hands on Izzy’s bright red leash as the pit bull mix comes barreling into the parking lot. McClure motions for me to take […]

    Read more

    Veterans Court Therapy Dog

    November 25, 2020

    Howard County Superior Court II Judge Brant Parry stood in his courtroom last week and looked around like he had lost something. “You want to see her?” he asked, still looking around the mostly empty room. A few moments later, a brown fluff of fur came bounding through an open back door, prompting instant smiles […]

    Read more

    Painted Paws Helps Veterans

    November 25, 2020

    When Tyler Warrick came home from serving in the Iraq war, he suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. “My little dog, Moose, gave me a purpose to get up every day and deal with life,” he says. That was the genesis of Painted Paws for Veterans, a nonprofit operating in Peyton that rescues dogs from […]

    Read more

    More Recent News