WASHINGTON, DC (Sept. 27, 2012) - American Humane Association, the nation’s leading advocate on behalf of animals and children, today called on the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to reverse a policy that would end a program reimbursing veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for their use of service dogs while in recovery. The policy is set to go into effect on Oct. 5, 2012.
“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 Dr. Robin Ganzert. “We know from years of experience that the human-animal bond is a source of powerful healing, whether they are children suffering from cancer or military men and women who have suffered the stress of battle. Service dogs, in particular, are an amazing, positive resource for assisting our nation’s best and bravest though their physical pain and mental anguish.”
“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,” announced Ganzert.
Also, in a letter sent today to United States Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), American Humane Association commended the senator for his leadership on the issue and his fight on behalf of veterans who enjoy the healing benefits of service dogs.
In the letter, Ganzert praised Senator Schumer saying: “Yours is a courageous fight on behalf of veterans who have experienced the restorative and healing powers of dog-assisted therapy, and we pledge you our full support in your effort to save this critical program.”
American Humane Association has long been a leader in a field of study and practice known today as Animal-Assisted Therapy, or AAT. American Humane Association provides animal-assisted therapy services to the health care, child welfare, education and military fields. Through AHA programs, animal-handlers and therapy animals impact some 125,000 lives a year as the core participants in one of the nation’s largest animal-assisted therapy programs in the country.
Earlier this year, AHA and Pfizer Animal Health announced the completion of the first round of an innovative research study on the benefits of AAT on pediatric cancer patients and their families. The research study, “Canines and Childhood Cancer: Examining the Effects of Therapy Dogs with Childhood Cancer Patients and their Families,” is a multi-year effort taking place in hospital settings across the U.S. that will examine the specific medical, behavioral, and mental health benefits AAT may have for children with cancer and their families. A comprehensive literature review has been completed as a first step, and may be downloaded at: www.CaninesAndChildhoodCancer.org.
Since 1877, the historic American Humane Association has been at the forefront of virtually every major advance in protecting children, pets and farm animals from cruelty, abuse and neglect. Today we’re also leading the way in understanding human-animal interaction and its role in society. As the nation’s voice for the protection of children and animals, American Humane Association reaches millions of people every day through groundbreaking research, education, training and services that span a wide network of organizations, agencies and businesses. Visit American Humane Association at www.americanhumane.org today.
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Christopher de Haan/42West