WASHINGTON, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, August 13, 2021 — American Humane, the country’s first national humane organization, which has been supporting the U.S. military and military animals for more than 100 years, commends the Senate’s passage of the PAWS Act (Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers), and encourages President Biden to sign the bill without delay.
The legislation, which was introduced by Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), would direct the Department of Veterans Affairs to carry out a pilot program for dog training therapy and would empower the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to allocate funds for the much-needed training of service dogs for veterans struggling with post-traumatic stress and other emotional disorders. The House already passed the bill in May.
“American Humane is thrilled by the prospect of putting more healing leashes in the hands of veterans struggling with the invisible wounds of war,” said Robin Ganzert, Ph.D., president & CEO of American Humane. “Specially trained service dogs are an invaluable resource for veterans who have trouble returning to civilian life. We call on President Biden to sign this lifesaving legislation.”
American Humane’s Pups4PatriotsTM program dentifies dogs ideally suited for assisting veterans suffering from PTS or traumatic brain injury and trains them to be lifesaving service animals at no cost to veterans. The PAWS act would allow this model to spread and enable other organizations to get much-needed healing leashes into the hands of veterans.
The Veterans Health Administration released the results of a study earlier this year that bolster the evidence for service dogs as PTS treatment. Researchers gauged the effects of both service and emotional support dogs on an individual’s post-traumatic stress disorder checklist (PCL-5), depression symptoms and suicidal measures. Being paired with a service dog mitigated symptoms of depression and suicidal ideation while improving scores on the PCL-5 by 3.7 percent.
Many veterans who risked their lives to defend America’s freedoms return home and struggle to adjust to civilian life. Up to one in five who served in Iraq and Afghanistan is diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress and, according to a 2016 report from the VA, an average of 20 veterans die by suicide each day. While service dogs can help, there are many obstacles for veterans in need, including long waitlists and intensive training that costs up to $30,000 per dog. “This legislation will save lives of those who have given so much to protect our country and who have waited so long for help,” says Dr. Ganzert. “It is critical that it be enacted into law as soon as possible.”
About American Humane
American Humane is the country’s first national humane organization. Founded in 1877, the nonprofit today saves, shelter, feeds and protects nearly one billion animals around the world each year, and has supported the U.S. military and military animals since 1916 when we were enlisted to save and care for 68,000 war horses wounded each month on the battlefields of World War I Europe. Today, American Humane provides trained service dogs to veterans with PTS and TBI, reunites retired war dogs with their handlers, and more. For more information, please visit www.americanhumane.org and please follow us on Facebook and Twitter