Last Week, U.S. Senator Deborah Fischer introduced S. 951, Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers (PAWS), to establish a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) grant program to provide service dogs to veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) .
AKC supports this measure, and its House companion, H.R. 1022, which was introduced earlier this year by Congressman Rutherford.
Scroll down to learn more about the bill and how you can get involved.
What the Bills Do
These bills establish a pilot, three-year program administered by the VA that offers grants to eligible organizations to provide service dogs to qualified disabled veterans suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or traumatic brain injury (TBI).
Eligible programs/trainers must meet outcomes standards published by the Association of Service Dog Providers for Military Veterans, including passage of multiple levels of AKC CGC tests in addition to specific task-based training, or be accredited by Assistance Dogs International (ADI) or the International Guide Dog Federation (IGDF) or similar organizations.
In addition to initial pairing costs, the grants would cover: (1) a veterinary health insurance policy for the life of the dog, (2) service dog hardware, and (3) payment for travel expenses for the veteran to obtain the dog.
The program would also develop appropriate means to measure and report on psychosocial function, therapeutic compliance, and change in reliance on prescription narcotics and psychotropic medications of program participants.
Although the VA currently covers costs of service dogs for veterans with physical disabilities, it does not currently cover service dogs for veterans with PTSD, despite evidence of the efficacy of service dogs for this type of treatment.
What You Can Do
Contact your U.S. House and Senate representatives and members of the House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committees and ask them to support PAWS H.R. 1022/S. 951. Tell them these important bills honor disabled veterans and recognize the value of individually task-trained service dogs.
To find out who represents you in The US House and Senate, go to www.akcgr.org and click on “Find Officials” on the right.
Committee Members Lists
AKC Government Relations (AKC GR) will continue to monitor this legislation. For more information, contact AKC GR at firstname.lastname@example.org.