Programs like K-9’s for Warriors are on a mission: They want to help Veterans that are experiencing PTSD through companion dogs– this program allows Veterans to be the dogs’ trainers.
Veterans in Trucking connected with this organization; they told us that:
With the majority of dogs coming from high-kill rescue shelters, this innovative program allows the K9/Warrior team to build an unwavering bond that facilitates their collective healing and recovery.
This treatment method is backed by scientific research (from Purdue University’s OHAIRE Lab) demonstrating Service Dogs’ ability to help mitigate their veteran’s symptoms of PTSD while simultaneously restoring their confidence and independence.
And this program is getting some help: A new bill has passed that will alow U.S. Veterans that are experiencing PTSD to apply to Veterans Affairs for a service dog.
The new act is called: “Puppies Assisting Wounded Service Members for Veterans Therapy Act,” or the “PAWS for Veterans Therapy Act” and officially called H.R. 1448.
K9s for warriors also said that, “Additionally, the law will support organizations (such as K9s For Warriors) that primarily receive their Service Dogs from high-kill shelters, a distinction that effectively saves two lives with every pairing between veteran and Service Dog.”
The use of horses, dogs, and other companion animals, as part of a care regimen has broad clinical testing and support. With Veterans specifically, these dogs have been shown to reduce and interrupt their anxiety.
Lab testing has found that there isn’t a specific breed of dog that is suited for this work. Rather, they’ve had success with a broad range of breeds– from thoroughbred German Shepherds to Labrador mixes.
Veterans have found that they are asking their dogs to help with anxiety five times a day. And encouragingly, their animals are recognizing their stress and independently interrupting their anxiety around three times a day.
The dogs also provide practical help that reaches beyond emotional support– helping them to deal with crowds and the unexpected:
“For example, a dog may “cover” a veteran at a supermarket, allowing its owner to calmly turn to take something off the shelf, because veterans with PTSD can get startled if they don’t know if someone is approaching and benefit if their dogs signal that this is happening,” according to The Conversation.
Dogs are even trained to wake Veterans up if they are having a nightmare.
The central goal of this program is to reduce the number of veteran suicides connected with mental health issues, which have escalated along with substance abuse issues. It’s estimated that a shocking and grievous 20 Veterans a day die by suicide. But this program seems to be helping to turn that number around.
The Conversation reported that Veterans that had service dogs had stress hormones more in line with other adults. Veterans also said that the program gave them a greater sense of well being, less incidents of depression, and an incredible 92 percent experienced a reduction in use of their medications! They also experienced better relationships with friends and family.
This program will entitle service members experiencing PTSD to a trained service dog, regardless of whether they are experiencing any mobility issues. Through the PAWS program service members will also be permitted to adopt their canine companions.