The VA Won’t Fund Service Dogs For PTS Therapy

Fflag is a retired explosives detection dog in search of a home    Photo: Brendan Mullin, U.S. Marine Corps

Military dogs are often homeless once they are retired from service.  And worse, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) won’t pay for veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS) to adopt them or other dogs as service dogs. Congressman John Rutherford of Florida has introduced a bill — the Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers (PAWS) Act of 2019  to provide funding to veterans diagnosed with PTS who would like to obtain a service dog.

Why This Matters: It would be a real win-win to see some of these dogs– or other dogs in need of homes — go to veterans who are suffering from PTS as an alternative or supplement to other treatments.  Veterans who have been given service dogs for their anxiety and depression say the benefits are clear, but the VA hesitant to go forward with this as a treatment until its ongoing research is completed next year.

The PAWS Act  

If passed, the PAWS Act will require the VA to provide a $25,000 voucher to veterans diagnosed with PTS for service dog costs.  A non-profit called K9s For Warriors is working to get the legislation passed.  The VA estimates that 11-20 percent of all Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have PTS plus there are other, non-combat veterans who suffer from PTS as a result of other traumas such as military sexual assault.

To Adopt a Military Dog:   The Air Force is looking for people — military members or otherwise — who want to adopt them.  If you are interested in adopting a retired military working dog, contact officials at mwd.adoptions@us.af.mil or call 210-671-6766.

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