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

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

Veterans with PTSD to Receive/Train Service Dogs through New Federal Program

Washington, D.C. (August 27, 2021) — The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) lauded the passage of H.R. 1448, the Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers (PAWS) for Veterans Therapy Act, which was signed into law by President Biden yesterday. The PAWS for Veterans Therapy Act directs the Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) to implement a five-year pilot program to provide canine training to eligible veterans diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder as an element of a complementary and integrative health program and authorizes the VA to provide service dogs to veterans with mental illnesses.

“HABRI is proud to have funded key scientific research demonstrating the efficacy of service dogs as a complimentary therapy for veterans with PTSD,” said Steven Feldman, President of HABRI.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has documented that PTSD affects more than 15 percent of post 9-11 war veteransi. With an alarming 17 suicides per dayii, addressing the mental health of veterans is an urgent crisis.

With the support of the pet care community, HABRI funded the first pilot study investigating the efficacy of service dogs as a complementary, therapeutic intervention for veterans with PTSD. Results of this study, conducted by Dr. Maggie O’Haire and team at Purdue University, indicate that veterans with a service dog exhibited significantly lower overall PTSD symptom severity, including increased overall psychological well-being; a better ability to cope with flashbacks and anxiety attacks; a lower frequency of nightmares and less overall sleep disturbance; lower overall anxiety, depression, and anger; higher levels of companionship and social reintegration; and lower levels of social isolationiii. Participants of this first-of-its-kind study were recruited from a database of individuals provided by K9s for Warriors.

“The results of our research consistently showed that on average, veterans with service dogs had lower PTSD symptom severity,” said Maggie O’Haire, PhD, Associate Professor of Human-Animal Interaction, Center for the Human-Animal Bond at Purdue University. “Though still meeting diagnostic criteria, they experienced greater psychological wellbeing overall. We are currently conducting an NIH-funded clinical trial to collect more extensive evidence. In collaboration with K9s For Warriors, we have published research on 327 military veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder, with the goal of continuing to advance rigorous science when it comes to how service dogs are helping veterans.”

“We commend the White House for supporting this bill as a critical step in combatting veteran suicide, and we’re confident in the path ahead for Service Dogs ultimately becoming a covered VA benefit to veterans with PTSD,” said Rory Diamond, CEO of K9s For Warriors. “In communicating with veterans and their healthcare providers, it’s more imperative than ever to embrace the lifesaving impact of a Service Dog and to raise awareness for this treatment option as a proven method for mitigating debilitating symptoms of PTSD and suicidal ideations.”

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

 

i.

“U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs PTSD in Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. Jun 3, 2015. Available at: www.publichealth.va.gov/epidemiology/studies/new-generation/ptsd.asp.

ii.

National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report” Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention. 2020. Web. https://www.mentalhealth.va.gov/docs/data-sheets/2020/2020-National-Veteran-Suicide-Prevention-Annual-Report-11-2020-508.pdf

iii.

O’Haire, M. E., & Rodriguez, K. E. (2018). Preliminary efficacy of service dogs as a complementary treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder in military members and veterans. Journal of consulting and clinical psychology, 86(2), 179.

About HABRI

HABRI is a not-for-profit organization that maintains the world’s largest online library of human-animal bond research and information; funds innovative research projects to scientifically document the health benefits of companion animals; and informs the public about human-animal bond research and the beneficial role of companion animals in society. For more information, please visit https://www.habri.org/.

Contact

Jamie Baxter

jamie@theimpetusagency.com

775.322.4022

###

Press Releases
New Study to Investigate the Impact of Pets on the Mental Health of Sexual and Gender Minority Youth

The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) announced today the award of a new research grant to Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) to examine the relationship between sexual and gender minority (SGM) stressors in young adulthood and human-animal interaction (HAI), investigating how pets may serve as a protective factor for this marginalized population during the transition to adulthood. The lead investigators of the grant are Drs. Rosalie Corona and Shelby McDonald, both in the Department of Psychology. SGM emerging adults (e.g., lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and other sexual and gender minority identities or “LGBTQ+” ́) are a diverse group of young people facing stigma, victimization, and discrimination at levels that impact their wellbeing. This research project involves a three-wave panel study of 300 SGM emerging adults. Over a 6-month period, researchers aim to identify unique relations between SGM stressors and HAI, exploring how pets are associated with increases in personal hardiness, and whether comfort derived from them buffers the negative impact of victimization on self-esteem. This study will allow researchers to assess these effects over time and identify causal mechanisms that explain the relationship between pets and improved health outcomes, providing further evidence for the role of pets as a social determinant of health. “This study is the first to longitudinally test whether relationships with pets help this underserved population cope with stress,” said Dr. Shelby McDonald, Co-Principal Investigator. “I’m thrilled to be working with Co-PI Dr. Rosalie Corona, on this project, who brings expertise in reducing risk, health disparities, and improving health behaviors. We expect to find that measures of the human-animal bond, such as attachment to pets and comfort derived from pets, will be positively associated with self-esteem and personal hardiness, and negatively associated with stress and substance use.” Dr....

Press Releases
New Research Looks at Impact of Service Dogs on Medication Regimens for Veterans with PTSD

The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) announced today the online publication of a study titled, “The Effect of a PTSD Service Dog on Military Veterans’ Medication Regimens: A Cross-Sectional Pilot Study”, in the journal Anthrozoos. Findings of the study, conducted by researchers at the Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine and the Purdue University College of Pharmacy, found no significant differences between post-9/11 U.S. veterans living with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) who were provided with a psychiatric service dog and veterans on a waitlist to receive a service dog in terms of number and type of medications reported. However, veterans with a service dog were more likely to report that their doctor had decreased dosage or removed medications, as compared to veterans on the waitlist to acquire a service dog. “Our previous research has found that PTSD service dogs can improve specific areas of functioning and symptomology for military veterans. This new research builds on these findings by exploring how PTSD service dogs impact veterans’ medication use,” said study co-author Dr. Kerri Rodriguez, Postdoctoral Researcher at Colorado State University. “These results indicate that PTSD service dogs played a positive supporting role. Veterans kept up with their medication regimens, indicating that the presence of the service dog was not associated with any lapse in standard treatment. While having a PTSD service dog may not completely alleviate veterans’ needs for sleep, pain, or anxiety medications, there were reported decreases in dosage levels, shedding additional light on the potential value of these service dogs as a complimentary intervention.” The objective of this study was to quantify the effect of PTSD service dogs on medication use among a population of military veterans with PTSD. Fifty-two veterans living with a PTSD service dog and 44 veterans on a waitlist to receive a service dog were recruited from a database...

Press Releases
Nature’s Variety Supports Human-Animal Bond Research

The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) announced today that Nature’s Variety®, makers of natural, wholesome and delicious pet food has become an official supporter of HABRI and its research into the health benefits of the human-animal bond. “At Nature’s Variety, we believe in the power of pure, real nutrition to keep beloved pets healthy and happy. The human-animal bond is so central to our mission to give pets everything they need for a long and happy life with us,” said Reed Howlett, CEO of Nature’s Variety. “Supporting research into the human health benefits of pets is a perfect complement to our mission. We support better health for people and pets together.” Scientific evidence increasingly shows that pets improve heart health; alleviate depression; increase well-being; support child health and development; and contribute to healthy aging. In addition, companion animals can assist in the treatment of a broad range of conditions from post-traumatic stress to Alzheimer’s disease to autism spectrum disorder. The benefits of the human-animal bond impact more than just human health. Findings from a recent HABRI survey of 2,000 pet owners demonstrate that knowledge of the scientific research on the human-animal bond motivates pet owners to take better care of their pets. Specifically, when educated about the scientific research on the health benefits of pets, 88% of pet owners are more likely to provide their pets with high quality nutrition. “HABRI is thrilled to add Nature’s Variety as a HABRI supporter,” said Steven Feldman, Executive Director of HABRI. “By joining forces with HABRI, Nature’s Variety is demonstrating its leadership in the pet care community!” “From HABRI research, we know that healthy pets transform the lives of people through the human-animal bond – and Nature’s Variety transforms the lives of pets by empowering pet owners to provide their pets with natural nutrition,” added Howlett. “While HABRI does...

HABRI