Can Veterans Get A Service Dog
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Can Veterans Get A Service Dog

  • October 15, 2021

Service dogs on the jobMost of the time, service dogs can be easily identified. Could your dog be a service dog? Among the many program that the Trust supports are several that deal with service dogs and other types of service animals. DogsNEADS Inc.: Supports ill and injured veterans in securing a trained service dog through the Service Dogs for Veterans program. Additional resourcesRehabilitation and Prosthetic ServicesVA Service Dog Fact SheetVA Service Dog FAQAssistance Dogs International Inc.

PTSD Service Dog

While many different animal species can be trained to perform tasks that aid individuals with disabilities—including pigs, cats, horses, monkeys and birds—by far, the most common service animals are dogs. Dogs can be trained to perform and variety of tasks, and their work helps individuals with disabilities and impairments lead more fulfilling and independent lives.

The use of emotional support animals and therapy animals has risen dramatically over the years and has provided an important benefit to many within the veteran community. A wide body of anecdotal evidence and scientific studies reflects what many already suspected—animal companionship can help support positive outcomes in physical and mental health.

However, with no governing body regulating the use or licensure of service animals, problems have arisen, often having the most negative impacts on individuals who rely on these animals to perform tasks related to their disability. With limited public understanding of the differences, some service animals have been unfairly and illegally denied access in public. In other cases, emotional support animals have wrongfully gained access to establishments under the guise of a service animal when they were not properly trained.

These three categories of assistance animals all perform different tasks and, as such, have different levels of public access protected by law.

Service animals:

  • Are covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and afforded rights to enter public establishments.
  • Are trained to assist a single person.
  • May live with owners regardless of pet policies under the Fair Housing Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
  • May fly with their disabled owner in the cabin of an aircraft as part of the federal Air Carrier Access Act.

Therapy animals:

  • Provide emotional support or comfort to a number of different people in various settings (e.g., visiting hospital patients, comforting witnesses during court testimony or offering support to trauma survivors).
  • Are not considered a service animal under the law and are not covered by or afforded rights through the ADA.

Emotional support animals:

  • Provide emotional support through companionship.
  • May live with owners regardless of pet policies under the Fair Housing Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
  • Are not considered a service animal under the law and is not covered by or afforded rights through the ADA.

It is important to note these differences. Even though therapy animals and emotional support animals may be very well trained and properly behaved, they are still not qualified service animals and do not have the same access rights.

Some websites offer to—for a fee—add pets to a national registry of service animals. They may even provide special vests or identification cards. The problem is, however, that no such registry exists, and even with a vest, non-service animals are still not legally afforded the same access rights.

Rights and restrictions                                                                       

According to the ADA, “service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities.” The dog must not be a pet but is to be specially trained to assist the handler with tasks directly related to his or her disability.

The ADA also notes that its definition of a service dog “does not affect or limit the broader definition of ‘assistance animal’ under the Fair Housing Act or the broader definition of ‘service animal’ under the Air Carrier Access Act.”

Under the ADA, service dogs cannot be denied entrance to businesses (even food service establishments), state and local government facilities, or nonprofit organizations that serve the public.

However, service dogs must be under control at all times. This generally means they should be leashed or harnessed (unless these get in the way of the dog’s duties, in which case the dog must still be under the handler’s control).

The ADA mandates that a disabled person cannot be asked questions about his or her disability. The staff of businesses can only ask the following two questions to the handler of a service dog:

  • Is the dog indeed a service animal and required to assist with a disability?
  • What specific task(s) has the dog been trained to do (in service to the handler)?

Handlers of service dogs cannot be charged more money because of their dogs nor can they be denied the rights and access granted to those without service animals. Disabled persons with service dogs can only be asked to leave the premises if the dog is out of control and cannot be corrected by the handler, or if the dog is not house-trained.

Types of service dogs

There are many types of service dogs, and some even serve multiple purposes. Potential service dogs go through rigorous training programs before they can team up with a handler. Here are a few common types of service dogs:

  • Guide dogs for the blind
  • Hearing dogs for the deaf or hearing impaired
  • Mobility assistance dogs for those in wheelchairs or those with mobility limitations
  • Seizure response dogs
  • Diabetes assistance dogs to detect blood sugar highs and lows (dogs are scent-trained)
  • Mental health service dogs or psychiatric service dogs are task-trained to assist those with post-traumatic stress disorder, panic disorders, anxiety disorders, major depression, autism spectrum disorders, etc.

 

Service dogs on the job

Most of the time, service dogs can be easily identified. Many wear special vests and/or harnesses and pay close attention to their handlers. However, special identification is not actually required.

Never assume that a dog is or is not a service animal. Always be sure to ask before petting a dog. (Even if the dog is a pet, this is essential to prevent bites.) Service dogs should not be petted, fed or otherwise given attention while at work. Please be respectful and allow these dogs to do their jobs. They make a major difference in the lives of disabled people.

There are no specific rules about what a service dog should or should not wear. They do not need to be identified with special harnesses or vests.

Does the VA cover service dogs?

In some cases, VA benefits will cover service dogs. Veterans need to meet with their health care provider to discuss their physical or mental health limitations to determine if a service dog will be an appropriate treatment approach. If it is determined that a service dog is ideal, the application will be submitted on behalf of the veteran. Each case is individually reviewed by a clinician to assess the goals to be accomplished by use of a service dog and the ability and means of the veteran and/or caregiver to care for the dog.

Working service dogs prescribed by the Department of Veterans Affairs are provided veterinary care and equipment through the VA Prosthetic & Sensory Aids Service. However, the VA does not pay for the dog or for boarding, grooming, food or other routine expenses. Read more about the VA’s veterinary health benefits at http://www.prosthetics.va.gov/ServiceAndGuideDogs.asp.

In 2016, the Center for Compassionate Care Innovation partnered with the VA Offices of Mental Health Services and Prosthetic & Sensory Aids Service to extend eligibility for veterinary care, travel support, specialized equipment and travel support to veterans with chronic mobility issues associated with a mental health disorder, to include help with costs involved with caring for their service dogs when they receive them from an approved agency accredited by Assistance Dogs International.

Could your dog be a service dog?

Many people wish they could take their pet everywhere with them. However, wanting this and needing it are two different things. Many instances of improperly trained animals biting, messing or otherwise misbehaving in public settings have created issues for individuals who require the assistance of a service animal. This can add to mistrust and poor sentiment among business owners and the general public.

The ADA rules are intended to ensure that disabled people are not interrogated or made to feel inferior when out in public with their service animals. This is an important rule. However, it also makes it easy to pass off pets as service animals.

A pet may have the appropriate temperament to train as a service animal, though many begin their training very early in life and spend many months undergoing rigorous training in specific tasks. You can seek out reputable trainers to aid in preparing an animal for service work. This can be an expensive investment, costing tens of thousands of dollars, and not all trainers will consider working with personal dogs.

Assistance Dogs International accredits training groups throughout the world, holding them to rigorous, high standards. A full list of member training groups in the United States can be found here.

DAV and service/assistance animals

The DAV Charitable Service Trust awards grants to help local and national programs provide direct services to veterans. Among the many program that the Trust supports are several that deal with service dogs and other types of service animals.

Dogs

  • NEADS Inc.: Supports ill and injured veterans in securing a trained service dog through the Service Dogs for Veterans program.
  • American Humane: Supports the Shelter to Service program in providing the training for one veteran-dog team.

Other animals

  • Quantum Leap Farm Inc.: Supports equine-assisted therapy programming and retreats for ill and injured military personnel, veterans and their families.
  • Island Dolphin Care Inc.: Provides scholarships allowing ill and injured veterans to receive therapeutic and educational dolphin-assisted services.

 

Additional resources

Rehabilitation and Prosthetic Services

VA Service Dog Fact Sheet

VA Service Dog FAQ

Assistance Dogs International Inc.

Veterans Can Train, Adopt Service Dogs Under New PAWS Law

Veterans Can Train, Adopt Service Dogs Under New PAWS Law

Veterans Can Train, Adopt Service Dogs Under New PAWS Law

Veterans Can Train And Adopt Service Dogs Under A New Law Signed By BidenEnlarge this image toggle caption Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images Anna Moneymaker/Getty ImagesA new program through the Department of Veterans Affairs aims to connect service dogs in training with veterans who have post-traumatic stress disorder. The effort was years in the making and became a reality when President Biden signed the Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers (PAWS) for Veterans Therapy Act into law on Wednesday during a ceremony attended by a bipartisan group of lawmakers. "We know service dogs are a proven life-changing and life-saving form of therapy for our veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress," said Rep. Mikie Sherrill, D-N.J., in a statement. "With this new law, we are addressing the high-cost barrier that prevents many from accessing these incredible dogs," Sherrill, a Navy veteran, added. Under the law, the VA will partner with nonprofit organizations for a pilot program in which veterans will be able to train aspiring service dogs.

About Us

About Us

About Us

As Chief of Staff and General Counsel of K9s For Warriors, Dodson serves as the chief personnel manager and legal advisor. She feels blessed that her diverse legal and management experience has allowed her to help K9s For Warriors carry out its mission. She most enjoys helping Warriors navigate federal and state laws pertaining to Service Dogs, along with advocating against disability discrimination and restrictions around public access. She draws on her wealth of litigation and client counseling experience when providing support to every department and team of K9s For Warriors. She is honored to currently serve as Chair of The Florida Bar Code and Rules of Evidence Committee on appointment by The Florida Bar President, after chairing and serving on many committees for The Florida Bar and the Jacksonville Bar Association.

Veterans with PTSD could get service dogs from VA under new law

Veterans with PTSD could get service dogs from VA under new law

Veterans with PTSD could get service dogs from VA under new law

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Wednesday signed a bill into law that will allow some veterans with mental health conditions to receive service dogs. “I’ve had the chance to visit with veterans and their service dogs in my district, and it couldn’t be clearer how service dogs make life better for our veterans,” Slotkin said in a statement Wednesday. Mental health service dogs are task-trained to assist people with PTSD, panic disorders, anxiety disorders, depression and other conditions. Some lawmakers and advocates have pushed the VA for years to help veterans with PTSD cover the costs of training service dogs. The study found veterans paired with service dogs experienced a reduction in the severity of their PTSD symptoms, and they exhibited fewer suicidal behaviors and ideations.

Congress Passes Bill to Help Vets with Mental Health Conditions

Congress Passes Bill to Help Vets with Mental Health Conditions

Congress Passes Bill to Help Vets with Mental Health Conditions

A bill to connect more veterans with service dogs trained to support mental health conditions is headed to President Joe Biden's desk. The bill also allows -- but does not require -- the VA to provide service dogs to vets with mental health conditions. "Our bill would expand this treatment by launching a pilot program to make veterans with mental health issues such as depression eligible to receive service dogs." And veterans paired with service dogs had fewer suicidal behaviors and less suicidal ideation at the 18-month point. Service dogs trained to assist people with PTSD learn a range of tasks, such as standing in front of or behind their handler to fend off crowds or approaching people.

VA Grant Program to Provide Service Dogs for Veterans With PTSD

VA Grant Program to Provide Service Dogs for Veterans With PTSD

VA Grant Program to Provide Service Dogs for Veterans With PTSD

For veterans, service dogs provide more than just emotional support, especially for people dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI). The Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers Act of 2021 (PAWS) bill, S. 951, sets up a grant program for service dog organizations that provide trained dogs to veterans suffering from PTSD or TBI. “The VA covers service dogs for vets with other physical disabilities, but at this time, they won’t cover service dogs for PTSD.”What’s Involved with Providing Service Dogs for Veterans? All veterans paired with service dogs must be receiving the care of a mental health professional and interview with the service dog organization as well, says O’Brien. How Do Service Dogs Help Veterans?

Is adopting a service dog right for you? What veterans diagnosed

Is adopting a service dog right for you? What veterans diagnosed

Is adopting a service dog right for you? What veterans diagnosed

The VA is currently evaluating whether service dogs can benefit veterans diagnosed with PTSD. In order to apply for a service dog, veterans typically must submit documentation that they have been diagnosed with PTSD from their military service, conduct a series of interviews over the phone and/or at home with the service dog providers, undergo criminal background checks, and participate in a training course. Similar to Southeastern Guide Dogs’ application process, veterans must submit documentation from a physician confirming they have service-connected PTSD. The legislation would instruct the VA to establish a grant program to give veterans with PTSD $25,000 vouchers they can use to adopt a service dog, if that organization belongs to the Association of Service Dog Providers for Military Veterans. For veterans starting the process of adopting a service dog, Wilburn and Diamond advised veterans to do their research ahead of time.

Service Dogs for Military Veterans

Service Dogs for Military Veterans

Service Dogs for Military Veterans

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]If you want to know how service dogs can help military veterans in Colorado Springs, this article is for you. Carmel Veterans Service Center works with several service dog organizations to help provide aid and service Military Veterans in the greater Colorado Springs area. Veteran Service Dog Organizations in Colorado SpringsWe partner with several different organizations in Colorado Springs that provide service dogs to our local Military Veterans. Freedom Service DogsFreedom Service Dogs offers VA service dogs to veterans. Carmel Veterans Service Center provides integrative services and support to military service members, veterans, and their families.

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