War dogs have certainly been a boon to our military during their deployment to the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. And service dogs are easily considered to be unsung heroes to our injured veterans after they return home.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) states a service dog is
“trained to do specific tasks for a person that he or she cannot do because of a disability. Service dogs can pick things up, guide a person with vision problems, or help someone who falls or loses balance easily. For example, a service dog can help a blind person walk down the street or get dangerous things out of the way when someone is having a seizure.”
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) similarly defines service animals but also specifies when businesses may prevent their presence in their facilities.
The VA reviews each veteran’s request for a service dog. Once it is approved, the it will refer the veteran to accredited agencies where a needed dog can be obtained. Although the VA does not supply an animal, it does provide for its complete veterinary care and any necessary equipment (e.g. harness and/or backpack) to ensure its optimal use. Otherwise, veterans are required to provide for the daily care of their animal.
Two agencies that provide service dogs are Patriot PAWS and Paws For Veterans. However, Operation We Are Here is an exceptional resource for military families that includes a list of over 100 service dog providers located across the U.S. Their “About Us” section tells us a lot about them:
“If you are a loved one going through a deployment…we hope that in this site you will find an understanding of your situation…you are not alone. If you are new to the military community…we hope that these resources and stories will help you to not just cope with the military lifestyle, but to thrive.”
Amazingly, PETA is not a friend of service dogs. Their opinion:
“Optimally, humans should be relied upon for support of the disabled rather than working dogs and other animals—it is too common for animals to be exploited and abused.
Obviously, PETA is out-of-touch with reality and cares not one whit about our veterans.
But most Americans do. And we are thankful for that!
Additional Resources From The VA