GATINEAU, QC, May 27, 2014 /CNW/ - Today, the Honourable Julian Fantino,
Minister of Veterans Affairs, shared with stakeholders Veterans Affairs
Canada's (VAC) plan to support a pilot project to assess the benefits
and risks of using psychiatric service dogs to assist in the treatment
of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in Veterans.
The two-and-a-half-year pilot project has a goal of having up to 50
Veterans who are in receipt of a disability benefit for PTSD and have
approval from their treating mental health professional, participating
in the project. VAC will provide up to $500,000 to cover expenses and
new research for the pilot project.
In May 2013, VAC announced a partnership with St. John Ambulance Canada
and Can Praxis to research the benefits of using therapy dogs and
horses to assist Veterans dealing with mental health issues.
In September 2013, VAC announced a partnership with the Canadian
Institute for Military and Veteran Health Research (CIMVHR) to conduct
a research assessment on whether psychiatric service dogs can assist
individuals with PTSD. The research indicated that a pilot project was
the appropriate step forward.
On May 12, 2014, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the
introduction of the Justice for Animals in Service Act (Quanto's Law), legislation that would ensure that those who harm law enforcement,
service and Canadian Armed Forces animals face serious consequences.
VAC has a well-established national network of more than 4,800 mental
health professionals, including psychologists, social workers and
mental health nurses, who deliver mental health services to Veterans
with PTSD and other operational stress injuries (OSIs).
VAC and the Department of National Defence have a joint network of 17
operational stress injury clinics, including 10 specialized clinics
established by VAC.
"Some Veterans will tell you that service dogs are more than man's best
friend, they are companions who are an integral part of their
day-to-day life. This project will help us study and learn how service
dogs can help Veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder."
The Honourable Julian Fantino, Minister of Veterans Affairs
"Since 2012, Wounded Warriors Canada has been the national leader in
funding PTSD animal assisted therapy programs for Canada's ill and
injured Canadian Armed Forces members and their families. The
participant response from those who have received a service dog from
the Courageous Companions Program that we fund has been overwhelmingly
positive and, in fact, life changing. We applaud Minister Fantino's
timely action and look forward to working with the Department of
Veterans Affairs on this important pilot project."
Phil Ralph, National Program Director for Wounded Warriors Canada
"This pilot project is a concrete and positive step forward. As someone
who has gained tremendously from my service dog, I'm proud to be
involved in this effort to help Veterans with PTSD."
Captain (retired) Medric Cousineau, SC, CD, Founder of Paws fur Thought
"The Mental Health Strategy for Canada, released by the Mental Health
Commission of Canada in 2012, shared that shifting policies and
practices toward recovery and well-being will require, among other
things, finding innovative ways to support people living with mental
health problems and illnesses to exercise choices in their journey of
recovery. Certainly, the use of psychiatric service dogs to assist
Veterans with PTSD is an innovative, emerging recovery-oriented
practice. We look forward to hearing more about the pilot project and
the ensuing research."
Louise Bradley, President and CEO, Mental Health Commission of Canada
SOURCE: Veterans Affairs Canada
For further information:
Office of the Minister of Veterans Affairs
Veterans Affairs Canada