As of September 16, veterans visiting the Veterans Affairs facilities will be allowed to bring service dogs into the building, This new rule, Army Times reported, is a change from the old policy, in which only seeing-eye guide dogs were allowed, with other service dogs being allowed only at the discretion of managers.
According to the Army Times, the change in policy was initiated four years ago by the former national acting legislative director for AMVETS, Christina Roof, after a quadriplegic veteran was not able to bring his service dog into a VA office.
“As I have traveled to VA facilities throughout the country, I have heard from many Veterans about what a vital role their service animals play in their lives,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert A. McDonald in a statement.
“The revised regulation will ensure Veterans and employees have clear guidance regarding the presence of service animals in our facilities," he continued. "VA remains committed to ensuring America’s Veterans have access to the health care benefits for which they are eligible.”
Any service dog brought into the facility must be up-to-date on vaccinations, be under control and housebroken, and be certified as a service animal.
In the Army Times, Roof explains her concern is employees at the VA will not know how to enforce the new policy. “I have concerns that when it is pushed out, veterans will still face barriers to care or embarrassment when they are turned away," she Roof.
The VA said in its statement that all frontline employees will undergo 30 days of training to ensure all policies are enforced consistently.