WASHINGTON, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, August 26, 2021 — American Humane, the country’s first national humane organization, applauds President Biden for signing the Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers (PAWS) Act, which when implemented will empower the Department of Defense to fund service dogs for veterans struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder.
“American Humane is heartened and encouraged by the bipartisan support for the PAWS Act, which will improve the lives of veterans across the country,” said Robin R. Ganzert, Ph.D., president and CEO of American Humane. “Thanks to President Biden, specially trained service dogs will be available to more veterans in need by empowering nonprofits to put healing leashes into the hands that need them most.”
The PAWS Act instructs the Department of Veterans Affairs to begin a five-year pilot program that will provide specially trained service dogs, as an element of a broader health program, to veterans diagnosed with PTSD.
The momentum behind the PAWS Act comes on the heels of a Veterans Health Administration study, the results of which were released earlier this year. Researchers studied the effects of both service and emotional support dogs on a patient’s post-traumatic stress disorder checklist, depression symptoms and suicidal ideations. Treatment that included a service dog improved results across all three measures.
America’s brave men and women in uniform put their lives on the line to defend our freedoms abroad. Sadly, many struggle to return to civilian life and the invisible wounds of war, like PTSD and traumatic brain injury, hinder that process. Up to one in five veterans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan are diagnosed with PTSD during any given year, according to an estimate from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Service dogs can help many who are struggling, but obstacles to obtaining a well-trained dog, including long waitlists and intensive training costs, have delayed their widespread use. The PAWS Act can help change that.
American Humane’s Pups4PatriotsTM program identifies dogs ideally suited for assisting veterans suffering from PTS or TBI and trains them to be lifesaving service dogs at no cost to veterans. The PAWS act would allow this model to spread with haste and enable other organizations to get much-needed healing leashes into the hands of veterans.
“American Humane is honored to provide lifechanging and life-saving service dogs to veterans in need through our Pups4PatriotsTM program,” said Dr. Ganzert. “The PAWS Act will empower NGOs across the country to scale up programs and deliver real change veterans suffering the invisible wounds of war.”
About American Humane
American Humane is the country’s first national humane organization. Founded in 1877, American Humane is committed to ensuring the safety, welfare, and well-being of animals, and our leadership programs are first to serve in promoting and nurturing the bonds between animals and people. For more information or to support our work, please visit www.americanhumane.org.