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American Humane Association Calls on VA to Support Service Dogs for Veterans with PTSD

WASHINGTON, Oct. 1, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — American Humane Association, the nation’s leading advocate on behalf of animals and children, today called on the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to reverse a policy that would end a program reimbursing veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for their use of service dogs while in recovery. The policy is set to go into effect on Oct. 5, 2012.

“American Humane Association’s focus on animal-assisted therapy dates back to 1945 when we promoted therapy dogs as a means to help World War II veterans recover from the effects of war,” said American Humane Association President and CEO Dr. Robin Ganzert. “We know from years of experience that the human-animal bond is a source of powerful healing, whether they are children suffering from cancer or military men and women who have suffered the stress of battle. Service dogs, in particular, are an amazing, positive resource for assisting our nation’s best and bravest though their physical pain and mental anguish. We call on the VA and the United States Congress to stand up for our veterans and their families by continuing to reimburse veterans who suffer from PTSD for the cost of medically approved service dogs.”

In a letter sent to United States Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), American Humane Association commended the senator for his leadership on the issue and his fight on behalf of veterans who enjoy the healing benefits of service dogs.

In the letter, Ganzert praised Senator Schumer, saying, “Yours is a courageous fight on behalf of veterans who have experienced the restorative and healing powers of dog-assisted therapy, and we pledge you our full support in your effort to save this critical program.”

American Humane Association has long been a leader in a field of study and practice known today as Animal-Assisted Therapy, or AAT. American Humane Association provides animal-assisted therapy services to the health care, child welfare, education and military fields. Through American Humane Association programs, animal-handlers and therapy animals positively affect some 125,000 lives a year as the core participants in one of the nation’s largest animal-assisted therapy programs in the country.

Earlier this year, American Humane Association and Pfizer Animal Health announced the completion of the first round of an innovative research study on the benefits of AAT on pediatric cancer patients and their families. The research study, “Canines and Childhood Cancer: Examining the Effects of Therapy Dogs with Childhood Cancer Patients and their Families,” is a multi-year effort taking place in hospital settings across the U.S. that will examine the specific medical, behavioral, and mental health benefits AAT may have for children with cancer and their families. A comprehensive literature review has been completed as a first step, and may be downloaded at: www.CaninesAndChildhoodCancer.org.

About American Humane Association
American Humane Association is the country’s first national humane organization and the only one dedicated to protecting both children and animals. Since 1877, American Humane Association has been at the forefront of virtually every major advance in protecting our most vulnerable from cruelty, abuse and neglect. Today we’re also leading the way in understanding the human-animal bond and its role in therapy, medicine and society. American Humane Association reaches millions of people every day through groundbreaking research, education, training and services that span a wide network of organizations, agencies and businesses. You can help make a difference, too. Visit American Humane Association at www.americanhumane.org today.

SOURCE American Humane Association
CONTACT: Mark Stubis, +1-202-677-4227, marks@americanhumane.org; or Jody Frisch, +1-202-677-4214, jodyf@americanhumane.org
Web Site: http://www.americanhumane.org

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