For many brave members of our nation’s armed forces, coming home as a civilian is only the beginning of another daunting battle. The invisible wounds of war, including Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS), can cause debilitating symptoms in veterans, leading to depression, social isolation, and, far too often, suicide.
American Humane is devoted to harnessing the healing powers of the human-animal bond to help veterans. A growing body of scientific research shows that specially trained PTS service dogs can reduce stress and anxiety levels, mitigate depression, ease social reintegration, provide comfort, and restore confidence in affected veterans.
However, there are obstacles standing in the way veterans in need of service dogs: Waiting lists are long and the process is expensive, with intensive compulsory training costing upwards of $30,000 per service dog.
American Humane is committed to putting more healing leashes into the hands of more veterans in need. Through our Shelter to Service program, we rescue dogs from shelters across the country and train them to be service dogs for veterans with PTS and TBI. In addition, we award grants to veterans requiring financial assistance to obtain and care for a PTS service dog, and provide them with insight and institutional support as they navigate the daunting application process for PTS service dogs
National Standards for PTS Service Dogs
The absence of any nationally accepted standards for the training of Post-Traumatic Stress service dogs further adds to the obstacles veterans face in obtaining the qualified, lifesaving animals they so desperately need.
In addition, some PTS veterans report being denied access to commercial venues, such as restaurants and airline flights, due to confusion about the permissible use of PTS service dogs. American Humane is leading an ambitious effort not only to create the first national training standards for these animals, but to define and develop best practices and protocols for training and use of PTS service dogs, which will protect the rights of veterans and their canine counterparts.
SHELTER TO SERVICE PROGRAM
Our Shelter to Service program rescues qualified shelter dogs and trains them to offer the best possible assistance to veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). All the dogs are trained according to American Humane’s new service dog standards—an approach developed by a Scientific Advisory Committee of scientists, veteran experts, mental health professionals, animal welfare specialists, veterinarians, dog trainers, and other key advocates. These standards are designed to maximize the efficacy of the service dog as a treatment method for veterans with PTS and TBI. In addition to providing exceptionally trained service dogs to veterans in need—free of charge—American Humane oversees intensive hands-on training sessions to cultivate the important connection between the veteran and his or her new service dog. Creating a welcoming environment conducive to this bonding process is crucial to the success of our program.
Wags4Patriots Grant Program
Our Wags4Patriots program helps put healing leashes in the hands of the veterans who need these dogs most. Eligible veterans can submit applications for funds to help them adopt service dogs. American Humane provides grants to help offset the costs for qualified veterans in need of a PTS service dog. As part of a long-range solution to gain veterans wider access to this four-legged medicine, American Humane is pursuing groundbreaking research to scientifically document the physical and psychological benefits of this life-saving approach.