At this point there is a growing body of research on canine therapy and its potential for helping veterans and active-duty soldiers recover from traumatic events both from true scientific tests and from stories people tell about how their Therapy Dogs have helped them overcome their psychological issues. Issues ranging from PTSD to sexual abuse in children have been significantly lessened allowing the recipient of the Therapy Dogs to once again function in a normal manner. Sleeping through the night, being able to attend school, testify in court cases, to Therapy Dogs in classrooms to help the entire class concentrate on their lessons. The instances of the use of Therapy Dogs and the situations they have helped people overcome are endless.
With the Pentagon’s support, nearly 100 troops have undergone canine therapy at the Defense Department’s National Intrepid Center of Excellence. Dogs rotate among groups of patients whose job it is to train the animals. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship: by the end of each rotation, the program winds up providing treatment to 20 service members and produces a fully trained service dog.
According to the Pentagon, Therapy Dogs remain an experimental treatment for now, but the pace of research on canine and other animal-assisted treatment is beginning to pick up. Last year, an Israeli study found that teenage girls suffering from psychological trauma exhibited fewer symptoms of PTSD after receiving canine therapy. Other studies credit canine therapy with lowering blood pressure among cardiac patients, reducing the perception of pain among children, and increasing the function of elderly schizophrenics. You would think with all of the research and case studies about Therapy Dogs out there that the Pentagon would be fully behind creating programs to help their veterans reintegrate into society after being on the front lines in a war zone.