President Joe Biden signed the PAWS or Puppies Assisting Wounded Service members for Veterans Therapy Act on Wednesday, August 25, 2021.
The act has been in the process of development for years, according to the National Public Radio service.
It is no secret that service animals as well as emotional support animals show marked improvements in mental and physical health for those who utilize their services. In fact, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine, 84% of all patients struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder that were paired with a service dog noticed a measurable reduction in their symptoms. Some patients were even able to reduce their intake of certain medications, although that should only be done if your doctor gives you the go ahead.
In a statement on Friday, North Dakota Republican Senator Kevin Cramer said, “Many veterans with mobility impairments have had their lives changed—in some cases, saved—by service dogs. Our bill would expand this treatment by launching a pilot program to make veterans with mental health issues such as depression eligibility to receive service dogs.”
There are a few groups that supported the bill in its process through the legislative system including a Ponte Vedra organization called K9s For Warriors. The group has paired almost 700 service dogs with veterans.
If service dogs are so beneficial for veterans’ health, what’s taken so long to ensure the passage of a bill like this?
According to Veterans Affairs, it said that it was waiting scientific study results to determine if dogs trained to support veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or other kinds of mental and/or physical disorders are more effective at easing symptoms than say, a companion or pet dog. Another concern was what happens with a dog’s death occurs for a veteran.
In March of 2021, those results were published in this study.
In short, both kinds of animals do help decrease PTSD, but the dogs who were trained specifically for veterans were able to provide even more specific help and care.
A timeframe for the plan’s executive has not yet been announced, but it will be coming soon, to the excitement of many in the U.S. who have fought so hard to defend our country.
The bill itself can be read here.