Legislation Seeks to Get More Healing Leashes Into the Hands of America’s Veterans Grappling with PTS and TBI
American Humane, the country’s first national humane organization, which has been working to support the U.S. military, veterans, and military animals for more than 100 years, applauds the introduction of H.R. 3335, the “Pups for Patriots Act of 2017,” by Congressmen Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) and Henry Cuellar (D-TX). The bill directs the Department of Veterans Affairs to create a pilot program to provide more highly trained lifesaving service dogs to the nation’s veterans struggling to cope with Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), and establishes the requirement to adhere to national standards on the selection, training, and assessment of the service dogs.
“We thank Congressmen Bilirakis and Cuellar for working to serve those who serve our country by providing veterans with sufficient numbers of service dogs, rigorously trained using the first set of national standards developed by top experts from across the country,” said American Humane President and CEO Dr. Robin Ganzert. “The Pups for Patriots Act will get more healing leashes into the hands of America’s veterans in greatest need.”
As co-founders and co-chairs of the Caucus for the Humane Bond, Congressmen Bilirakis and Cuellar are committed to promoting life-changing and life-saving interactions between humans and animals, in particular between veterans and service dogs.
Every day 20 veterans take their own lives. Vast anecdotal evidence and a growing body of scientific research show that specialized service dogs offer support to affected veterans in managing the symptoms of PTS and TBI. However, there are obstacles standing in the way for veterans in need of service dogs. Waiting lists are unconscionably long at 18 to 24 months, and the training process is time-consuming and expensive, costing as much as $30,000 per dog.
“We must supply a greater number of better-trained service dogs more quickly to America’s veterans grappling with Post-Traumatic Stress and Traumatic Brain Injury,” said Dr. Ganzert. “The Pups for Patriots Act is a vital step forward in helping protect those who have given so much to protect us and our freedom.”
“Our veterans are some of the bravest men and women alive today,” said Congressman Cuellar. “It is our duty as Americans to provide these heroes with the support necessary to aid their adjustment back into everyday life. I thank Congressman Bilirakis for his support in helping to introduce this bill.”
“The benefits of service dog therapy can in some ways go beyond anything that comes in a pill bottle,” said Congressman Bilirakis. “Our legislation would help support service dog therapy as an alternative treatment by connecting the VA to the many qualified nonprofits nationwide who train and provide service dogs. Many of us have known the unconditional love dogs bring to our lives. This bond can do wonders to help our nation’s heroes as they deal with their invisible wounds.”