Service dog pilot project to support Veterans suffering from PTSD

More research is needed to evaluate the use of psychiatric service dogs in treating Veterans with PTSD

Ottawa – Cathy McLeod, Member of Parliament for Kamloops – Thompson – Cariboo says she is pleased with the announced service dog pilot project to support Veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

“Last April I met with a local Veteran who shared with me his struggle with PTSD and how the use of a service dog had played an extremely positive role in providing therapy and rehabilitation,” said McLeod. “Following this meeting I wrote to the Minister of Veterans Affairs expressing my strong support of the use of service dogs in assisting Veterans with mental health conditions.”

In September 2013, Veterans Affairs Canada commissioned the Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Health Research to collect and evaluate the existing research on psychiatric service dogs to determine the next steps needed to create a Canadian approach.

The results revealed that more research is needed to evaluate the use of psychiatric service dogs in treating Veterans with PTSD.

This week the Minister of Veterans Affairs announced a two-and-a-half-year pilot project to look at the impact of the use of psychiatric service dogs in assisting Veterans with PTSD.

Veterans Affairs Canada will provide up to $500,000 in research and treatment benefits for the pilot project.

The goal is to have up to 50 Veterans, who are in receipt of a disability benefit for PTSD and have approval from their treating mental health professional, participate in the project.

“By launching this study, Veterans Affairs Canada is proactively seeking the scientific evidence to demonstrate that psychiatric service dogs have a role to play in assisting Veterans with PTSD,” said McLeod. “Although the current evidence is limited, there is enough of it to know that further study is needed and worthwhile. We will also work with researchers in other countries to share findings and best practices.”