It is not uncommon for veterans to come back from war with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The things that veterans see and the things that they go through can be very tough to handle. According to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, almost 31 percent of Vietnam vets came home with PTSD. As many as 10 percent came back from Desert Storm with PTSD and 11 percent of soldiers came home from Afghanistan with PTSD. One treatment that many doctors find to be very effective is service dogs. If you want to know how to get a service dog for PTSD veterans, read on.
When Is It a Good Time To Get a Service Dog?
If you are suffering from PTSD and you think that a service dog will help, you should discuss it with your therapist first. If have only recently started working with a therapist, getting a service dog might not be the best idea. Getting a hold on the condition makes it difficult enough to take care of yourself. You shouldn’t take on the responsibility of a dog until your therapist thinks that you are ready.
The Two Types of Service Dogs
There are two types of service dogs that you can get if you are suffering from PTSD.
Emotional Support Animal (ESA): In order to get an ESA, you would simply need your doctor or psychiatrist to write a note saying that you need to an animal to comfort you. The only way that you can take your dog out with you is if your state has a law stating that ESA’s are allowed in public places.
Psychiatric Service Dog (PSD): In order to have a PSD, you would need to be classified as having a disability. The disability that you have would have to be something that substantially limits one or more of your major life activities. The disability can be either mental or physical. A PSD can go anywhere. You are not required to show owners and managers of public places any proof that you are disabled. The only thing they can do is ask if your dog is a service dog and ask what tasks the dog is trained to do.
How Do I Choose Between an ESA or a PDA?
Most veterans with PTSD don’t need a service dog to perform tasks unless they have physical injuries on top of the emotional ones. In many cases, an ESA is enough. The only problem with an ESA is that if you are going to be taking your dog to a place where dogs are not allowed, an ESA wouldn’t be allowed there either. A PDA dog can go anywhere that their owner can go. If you travel frequently or if you often dine out and you need your dog to be with you, a PDA would be your best bet.
Affording a Service Dog
If you are unable to work due to your PTSD, you are likely living on a tight budget. Unfortunately, you may not have enough money leftover to pay for a service dog. Fortunately, there are plenty of non-profit organizations who provide service dogs for free. It is important to understand, however, that you would need to pay or the dog’s food, grooming bills, and veterinarian bills.
Finding the Best Service Dog Program For You
If you are ready to adopt a service dog, it is important that you work with an organization with a proven track record in providing service animals for veterans. It is best to work with an organization who often deals with veterans with PTSD.
No Pet Housing
If you are living in public housing or any rental property that does not allow pets, your service dog would be allowed. All you would need to do is show your dog’s papers to the landlord or the building manager. The people who own and manage these buildings legally cannot discriminate against you because you have a service dog.
Can Any Dog Become a Service Dog?
The answer to this question is no. A dog needs to have a certain disposition and temperament to become a service dog. Service dogs need to be strong, healthy, and free of allergies. They cannot exhibit typical dog behaviors, such as chasing animals, showing signs of fear, trying to get attention from people, scrounging for food, and other types of behaviors that are typical with dogs. These dogs are not pets, they are trained dogs and they should be trained and be treated as such.
Can Anyone Train a Service Dog?
Legally, you are allowed to train your own service dog, however, it is very risky. In order to properly train a service dog, you need to thousands of hours into training the dog. Even after all this training, the dog still may not be fit to be a service dog. Most people don’t have the objectivity to train their own dog and many don’t have the patience. In some cases, the dog that you own just might not be service dog material. If you are in need of a service dog, it is best to adopt one who has already been trained for the job.
Why Is There So Much Paperwork?
There is a great deal of paperwork involved in adopting a service dog. This is because every person is an individual and every dog is an individual. The people who work for service dog organizations need to know as much about you as possible so that they can match you with the perfect dog. The completed application will help the organization learn more about your personality, your diagnosis, your treatment plan, your recovery process, your home, they people who you consider to be your support system, your lifestyle, and your job status. Many programs also require that you include personal and medical references, health evaluation forms, and medical information forms. Many organizations also require a home visit so that they can see where the dog will be living. It may seem like a long process, however, it will be worth it in the long run.
If you are a vet suffering from PTSD, you should look into getting a service dog. Studies have shown that they can be a great form of therapy, and it isn’t as difficult to get one as you may think. As long as you know how to get a service dog for PTSD veterans, the process should go quite smoothly.