News Release Article from  Veterans Affairs Canada

Archived - Minister Fantino Announces Partnership to Explore the Use of Psychiatric Service Dogs to Help Veterans with PTSD

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September 20, 2013

Ottawa — The Honourable Julian Fantino, Minister of Veterans Affairs, today joined Dr. Alice Aiken, Director of the Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Health Research (CIMHVR), in announcing that Veterans Affairs Canada and CIMHVR will be partnering to develop the planned research assessment to determine the role of psychiatric service dogs in treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

“Our Government has made great strides in evaluating new approaches to support mental health for Veterans and the military,” said Minister Fantino. “By exploring whether the use of psychiatric service dogs would help with the treatment of Veterans with PTSD, we are listening to Veterans and gathering the information we need to make informed decisions.”

Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) and Dr. Alice Aiken, Director, Canadian Institute for Military and Veterans Health Research at Queen’s University, will collect and evaluate the existing research on psychiatric service dogs in order to determine the next steps needed to create a Canadian approach. The proposal is expected to be completed by March 31, 2014.

“Some Veterans have shared compelling stories about using service dogs. We look forward to gathering evidence and evaluating the effect of this type of treatment on Veterans with mental health conditions and their families,” said Dr. Aiken.

Psychiatric service dogs are trained to assist with symptoms relating to PTSD, anxiety and panic disorders, and severe depression. They are individually trained to perform tasks for their handlers, such as reminding them to take medication, retrieving objects, guiding them from stressful situations, or acting as a brace if the handler becomes dizzy.

The first Canadian Military Assistance Dog Summit will take place on Saturday, September 21, at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa.

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