WASHINGTON, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, March 24, 2021 — American Humane, the country’s first national humane organization, is encouraging U.S. Senators on both sides of the aisle to rally in support of the Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers (PAWS) Act of 2021. Introduced by Senator Fischer, the PAWS Act 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.
“American Humane is thrilled at the prospect of a broader movement 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.
American Humane’s Pups4PatriotsTM identifies dogs ideally suited for assisting veterans suffering from PTS or traumatic brain injury and trains them to be lifesaving companions 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.
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. By one count, up to one in five veterans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan are diagnosed with PTS during a given year. 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.
“In an age of inaction and partisan gridlock, American Humane is encouraging members of Congress to fight for much-needed aid to our nation’s veterans,” said Dr. Ganzert. “The life-changing power of the human-animal bond can truly save lives on both ends of the leash.”
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.