Can service dogs help veterans with PTSD?
The majority of Americans understand what those fighting for our country and our freedom have given up for us, but most of us don't know to what depth service men and women have sacrificed.
PTSD, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, is a mental health condition that some veterans develop after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event, like combat (US Department of Veterans Affairs, 2019). June is PTSD awareness month, and chances are everyone knows at least one person struggling. But the statistics reach farther than most realize.
The US Department of Veterans Affairs (2019) reports the following statistics:
- 11-20% who served in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom have PSTD in a given year
- 12% who served in the Gulf War (Desert Storm) have PTSD in a given year
- 30% who served in the Vietnam War have PTSD in their lifetime
Returning to civilian life is hard on many military persons, PTSD is diagnosed weeks or even months after their return when symptoms are still present.
Common Symptoms of PTSD:
- Reliving the event
- Avoiding situations that remind you of the event
- Negative changes in beliefs and feelings
- Feeling "keyed up" or anxious
The most prescribed treatments upon diagnosis are different types of therapy and medication. Unfortunately therapy and medication do not work for everyone with PTSD. But there is another treatment option that is gaining buzz, PTSD service dogs. While similar to other types of service animals, PTSD service dogs are specially trained for veterans specifically. PTSD service dogs are trained to provide comfort, retrieve items, recognize PTSD symptoms and triggers, the list is endless to what these dogs do.
The benefits of service dogs are numerous, check out the info-graphic for a few key benefits:
K9s For Warriors is a non-profit organization that provides service canines with warriors suffering from PTSD, traumatic brain injuries, and other trauma post 9/11 (K9s for Warriors, 2019, www.k9sforwarriors.org). 90% of the dogs they train are rescued from shelters. As of June 2019, 1,031 dogs have been rescued and 551 warriors have been rescued. K9s For Warriors is located in Florida and their services are free for accepted warriors.
(Image: K9s For Warriors)
Dogs & Tags PTSD/TBI of Wyoming is another organization that helps people find and train dogs for companionship and support for PTSD and traumatic brain injury victims, especially veterans (Dogs & Tags PTSD/TBI of Wyoming, 2019, www.dogsandtags.org). They provide services at their facility as well as off site, in homes, corporations, etc.
(Image: PTSD Dogs and Tags of Wyoming)
Gator Kennels is beyond proud to have worked with both organizations. We made custom kennels to house the incredible service dogs while the train for their life's work. We recognize the value and difference non-profits make in the lives of people and animals, that is why we offer a 5% discount and free logos/designs on every project for such organizations.
(Image: K9s for Warriors) (Image: K9s for Warriors)
Thank you to our veterans and active duty military.
We are grateful and thankful for your service and sacrifice.