HABRI Salutes Passage of the Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers (PAWS) for Veterans Therapy Act

Veterans with PTSD for admission / training of service dogs through the new federal program

WASHINGTON, August 27, 2021 / PRNewswire-PRWeb / – The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) commended the passage of HR 1448, the Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers (PAWS) for Veterans Therapy Act, which President Biden enacted yesterday. The PAWS for Veterans Therapy Act directs the Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) to conduct a five-year pilot program to provide canine training as an element of a complementary and inclusive health program to qualified veterans diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, and authorizes the VA to to provide service dogs to veterans with mental illness.

“HABRI is proud to have funded important scientific research demonstrating the effectiveness of service dogs as complementary therapy for veterans with PTSD,” said Steven Feldman, President of HABRI.

The US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has documented that more than 15 percent of war veterans will be affected by PTSD after September 11th. With an alarming 17 suicides a day, the battle against veterans’ mental health is an urgent crisis.

With support from the pet industry, HABRI funded the first pilot study investigating the effectiveness of service dogs as a complementary therapeutic intervention for veterans with PTSD. Results of this study, carried out by Dr. Maggie O’Haire and team at Purdue University, indicate that veterans with a service dog had significantly lower overall severity of PTSD symptoms, including increased general psychological well-being; a better ability to deal with flashbacks and anxiety attacks; a lower frequency of nightmares and fewer overall sleep disorders; lower general anxiety, depression, and anger; higher levels of camaraderie and social reintegration; and a lower level of social isolation. The participants in this first study of its kind were recruited from a personal database provided by K9s for Warriors.

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“Our research consistently showed that veterans with service dogs had, on average, less severe PTSD symptoms,” said Maggie O’Haire, PhD, Associate Professor of Human-Animal Interaction, Center for the Human-Animal Bond at Purdue University. “Although they still met the diagnostic criteria, they experienced better overall mental wellbeing. We are currently conducting an NIH-funded clinical study to gather more complete evidence. In partnership with K9s For Warriors, we published research on 327 military veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder. with the aim of advancing the rigorous science of how service dogs help veterans. “

“We commend the White House for supporting this bill as a critical step in combating veteran suicide, and we are confident that Service Dogs will ultimately become a covered VA benefit for veterans with PTSD,” said Rory diamond, CEO of K9s For Warriors. “When communicating with veterans and their health care providers, it is more important than ever to consider the lifesaving benefits of a service dog and to raise awareness of this treatment option as a proven way to alleviate the debilitating symptoms of PTSD and suicidal ideation.”

“We are grateful to the leadership of former Representatives Stivers and all 317 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives, Senators Tillis, Sinema, Cramer and Feinstein for their work on this important issue, as well as Senator Fischer, a longtime supporter of the Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers Act, “added Feldman. “HABRI is also grateful to the pet industry supporters who campaigned for the PAWS for Veterans Therapy Act and helped fund human-animal bond research that was critical to its passage.”

HABRI is a non-profit organization that maintains the world’s largest online library for research and information on human-animal relationships; Funds innovative research to scientifically document the health benefits of pets; and informs the public about research on human-animal bonding and the positive role of pets in society. More information is available at https://www.habri.org/.

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“US Department of Veterans Affairs PTSD in Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans. 3rd June 2015. Available at: http://www.publichealth.va.gov/epidemiology/studies/new-generation/ptsd.asp.
“National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report” Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention. 2020. Internet. https://www.mentalhealth.va.gov/docs/data-sheets/2020/2020-National-Veteran-Suicide-Prevention-Annual-Report-11-2020-508.pdf
O’Haire, ME, & Rodriguez, KE (2018). Preliminary efficacy of service dogs as a complementary treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder in military and veterans. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 86 (2), 179.

Media contact

Jamie Baxter, Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI), 7753224022, [email protected]


SOURCE Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI)

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