Andrew Clyde keeps a doberman pinscher named Kit at his place of business in Bogart, Georgia, to provide security.
Russ Murray keeps a black Labrador named Ellie at his side to help him deal with the post-traumatic stress disorder he has dealt with since serving in Afghanistan.
Over the weekend Russ and Ellie went into Clyde’s shop and were asked to leave — because the service dog was upsetting the security dog.
Murray was physically injured when his Humvee was blown up by an explosive device in Afghanistan. After his tour of duty, his PTSD reached the point he was afraid to go outside alone.
Since getting Ellie, a year ago, that has changed. With her at his side, Murray is able to go anywhere — except Clyde’s Armory.
According to Murray, the gun shop owner told him Ellie was disturbing his security dog, and would have to leave. Murray refused and was escorted out of the building.
Clyde told FOX 5, that the Americans With Disabilities Act allows a business owner to ask a person with a service dog to leave if the dog is being disruptive or alters the way business is conducted.
Clyde said that he’s also a disabled veteran, but that Kit needs to be allowed to do her job without distraction.
Murray’s attorney says a business owner is required to accommodate people with service dogs — even if it means bringing merchandise outside the store.
“I was just extremely hurt,” Murray said. “I have this animal to help me when I’m out and it really disturbing that a business would do that when she’s there to help me go into public.”
Posted by jwoestendiek April 10th, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: americans with disabilities, andrew clyde, animals, bogart, clydes armory, disabilities, disabled, doberman, dogs, ellie, georgia, gun shop, kit, labrador, pets, post traumatic stress disorder, ptsd, russ murray, service dog, veterans
After enrolling fewer than two dozen of a planned 230 dogs in the study — all paired with vets with PTSD — the VA has announced that the study has been suspended, and that, from now on, service dogs will only be paired with veterans with visible disabilities.
The new policy goes into effect today.
For the 400,000 veterans diagnosed as having post-traumatic stress disorder, that means dogs — despite all the positive effects that have been reported — will no longer be part of their treatment and recovery.
Among those blasting the decision is the American Humane Association.
Just days before its second annual celebration of hero dogs, the organization took time to put together a petition, calling on the Department of Veterans Affairs to reverse the new policy.
“Our 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,” the AHA said. ”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…”
Specifically, the new VA policy ends the program that reimbursed veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder for their use of service dogs while in recovery.
“It’s of the utmost importance that we provide our vets with every option available to treat service related ailments,” said Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), who was also shocked to learn of the new policy.
“Especially as the wars are winding down, and more and more soldiers are returning home with mental trauma, the VA must continue to allow their doctors and mental health professionals to provide benefits to veterans who need mental health service dogs,” he said.
Congress mandated that additional scientific study be conducted on the impact of service dogs paired with PTSD vets several years ago. But apparently that study never got off the ground — at least not as ambitiously as planned.
Launched in June 2011, the study planned to follow 230 PTSD vets and their service dogs, tracking them and their families through 2014. Only about a tenth of that number were registered for the study, though.
The study was halted, according to reports, because of concerns about dogs biting children, dirty and cramped living conditions, and faulty record-keeping.
According to the VA, there are about 400,000 veterans currently in treatment for PTSD, and that group has higher than normal rates of divorce, substance abuse, unemployment and suicide. There are 32 to 39 suicide attempts daily among vets with PTSD, about half of which result in death, according to a column by the Chicago Tribune’s Steve Dale.
Dale’s column looks at the benefits of programs such as those provided by Paws for Purple Hearts – an improved quality of life, fewer flashbacks and nightmares. Vets paired with dogs are said to be more likely to find jobs; less likely to become recluses.
“One hallmark of PTSD is avoidance (of going outdoors and socializing with others),” says Robert Porter, executive director 0f Paws for Purple Hearts. “That’s hard to do with a 60-pound dog who just wants to go out and play.”
The study was a chance to prove, beyond the anecdotal, just how much therapy dogs could help vets with PTSD. But, for reasons that make little sense, both the study and the concept were canned.
Most of the dogs in the study were from Guardian Angel Medical Services of Williston, Fla., and its founder and director, Carol Borden, says there were no biting incidents reported.
Borden says that in the organization’s history, veterans with PTSD nearly always benefit from having a dog. Some patients have been able to cut their medication in half, or stop taking it altogether, she said.
That has raised questions among some about whether pharmaceutical companies lobbied for the new VA policy. That’s conjecture, of course — conjecture being something that tends to occur when no logical explanation is given.
The VA owes vets, not to mention Congress, an explanation.
And we all owe veterans afflicted with PSTD a chance to get past it, or at least cope with it. Ruling out dogs and dropping the study is an oath broken, a promising avenue bypassed, and a slap in the face to veterans.
“We’ve not experienced a single suicide attempt as far as we know,” Borden said of vets paired with dogs under the Guardian Angels program. “I have letters from wives thanking us because the husband has returned, and it all happens because of a dog who provides unconditional love.”
Posted by jwoestendiek October 5th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: aha, american humane association, animals, benefits, ceased, charles schumer, congress, department, disabilities, divorce, dog, dogs, dropped, drug abuse, employment, funding, guardian angel medical services, halted, paws for purple hearts, petition, pets, post traumatic stress disorder, programs, promised, ptsd, ptsd dogs, reimburse, reimbursement, senator, service, study, suicide, terminated, therapy, va, vet, veterans, veterans affairs
The founder of Paws and Stripes — a nonprofit organization that provides disabled veterans with service dogs — says both he and his service dog, Sarge, were mistreated by United Airlines.
After waiting 48 hours in Dulles Airport due to cancellations and delays, Jim Stanek said he approached a ticket counter to get help understanding his revised itinerary.
He says he explained was having difficulty reading it.
“He said, ‘Just read it’ and I said, ‘Sir I can’t read it,’ and he said, ‘What are you retarded?’” Stanek recalled.
Wounded in battle, Stanek suffers from a brain injury that makes it difficult for him to concentrate under stress.
In addition to the insult, Stanek says, Sarge was kicked twice by United employees, leaving her “shaking like a leaf. It’s like she has PTSD.”
Stanek said the second, and harder kick came on a shuttle bus that was taking him from one terminal to another. An employee in a United uniform kicked the dog, he said.
“He said he was afraid of dogs,” Stanek said. “(He) kicked her so hard on the rib cage, that she literally jumped up into my lap.”
Stanek is encouraging others to register their concerns about how he and his dog were treated.
“I’m not asking for a red carpet, just treat me the way I’m supposed to be treated,” he said in a video he put together, recounting the incident.
Paws and Stripes works to provide service dogs for veterans with PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injury. The dogs are obtained only from shelters, and are trained by professionals to become service dogs.
Here’s Stanek’s account of what happened:
Posted by jwoestendiek July 25th, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: airlines, animals, dog, dogs, founder, insulted, jim stanek, kicked, military, mistreated, paws and stripes, pets, post traumatic stress disorder, ptsd, service dogs, shelter, united airlines, veterans
Disabled vets and homeless pets would be brought together for the mutual benefit of both under legislation recently passed by the House and now headed to the Senate.
The legislation would create a pilot program that trains shelter dogs to provide therapy to help treat veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and other war-related mental health conditions.
The House unanimously passed a package of veterans’ health care legislation that included the Veterans Dog Training Therapy Act, introduced by Rep. Michael Grimm, R-N.Y.
“As a veteran, and an American, I am thrilled that this legislation has passed the House, and I urge my colleagues in the Senate to pass it without delay, so that it can be signed into law and allow us to begin providing assistance to our returning veterans,” said Grimm, a Marine combat veteran from Operation Desert Storm.
The many potential benefits of the program were outlined by Michael Markarian on his Humane Society Legislative Fund blog, Political Animal:
“For wounded warriors and disabled veterans, caring for a pet can help them re-enter society and minimize stress and depression. Service dogs can also reduce the suicide rate among veterans, and provide other critical help—such as letting them know when it’s time to take medication, waking them from terrifying nightmares, or detecting changes in their breathing, perspiration, or scent to ward off panic attacks. Such benefits can decrease the number of hospitalizations, and lower the cost of medications and human care…”
“Our veterans need and deserve every opportunity to heal. This innovative legislation gives the wonderful dogs in shelters a chance to live and to serve by helping to heal the stresses and wounds so many soldiers battle when they come home.”
The bill would establish a pilot program in VA medical centers for educating veterans with mental health conditions in the art and science of assistance dog training and handling. It directs the secretary of Veterans Affairs to “consider dogs residing in animal shelters or foster homes for participation in the program.”
The Veterans Dog Training Therapy Act — one of six bills combined into a larger veteran’s health care bill — was the first Rep. Grimm introduced as a member of Congress, and his first bill to pass the House, according to a press release from his office.
(Photo: Courtesy of the office of U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm)
Posted by jwoestendiek October 17th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal shelters, animals, bill, congress, disabilities, disabled, dogs, health care, house, michael grimm, new york, pets, pilot, post traumatic stress disorder, program, ptsd, representative, shelter, therapy, therapy dogs, veterans, veterans dog training therapy act, war
David Sharpe credits a pit bull with saving his life, and, ten years later, he’s trying to give other veterans suffering from war-related post traumatic stress disorder that same helping hand.
Ten years ago, Sharpe was holding a revolver in his mouth and was prepared to pull the trigger when his six-month-old pit bull Cheyenne licked his ear.
“It was just one of those looks dogs give you,” Sharpe told the Washington Post. “It was like, ‘What are you doing? Who’s going to take care of me? Who else is going to let me sleep in this bed?’”
“There’s no doubt about it,” he said. “I owe her my life.”
As the Post article this week pointed out, “this is a different kind of tale of K-9 Corps bravery, distinct from those exploits of grenades sniffed out and warnings barked. Cheyenne’s heroics were in her unconditional devotion.”
Sharpe was a security guard for the Air Force and returned to the U.S. ten years ago with post traumatic stress disorder — though it wouldn’t be diagnosed for several more years.
“I couldn’t talk to anybody — not my father, not the counselors — but I could talk to that dog, and she never judged me,” Sharpe says. “We don’t want to hear, ‘Wow, that must have been horrible.’ We just want to talk.”
In 2002, visiting a shelter with a friend, he had adopted Cheyenne, one of seven pit bulls who’d recently been rescued from a fighting ring. “She was the force that pulled me back into society,” says Sharpe, 32, who is now a program analyst in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
Sharpe is trying to give other shelter dogs a chance to save other emotionally wounded warriors, through P2V.org (Pets to Vets), a nonprofit group that links service members with shelter animals and helps them with related expenses and training.
Sharpe got the idea for P2V after seeing a documentary on the role service animals can play in a veteran’s recovery — dogs that cost thousands of dollars to train and generally require a long wait.
Sharpe saw a more direct route — and one that can save dogs and humans.
“Eighteen vets commit suicide every day in this country, and one animal is put to sleep every eight seconds. They can help save each other,” he said.
It costs P2V about $650 for each adoption, including veterinary care, supplies, health insurance and the training consultants the groups make available. So far, P2V has matched 47 animals to vets, many of them former patients at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
(Source: Washington Post)
(Photo: By Carol Guzy / Washington Post)
Posted by jwoestendiek June 24th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: air force, animals, david sharpe, dogs, p2v, pets, pets to vets, post traumatic stress disorder, ptsd, rescue, save lives, shelter, therapy dogs, veterans, vets, walter reed, war
– Ventura Parks and Recreation Commissioner Sharon Troll
Pvt. James Sumner, an 1860s Army hero who was awarded the Medal of Honor, is buried beneath what is now a popular dog park in Ventura, California — and there’s an effort underway to have him scooped up and moved to a ”more respectful” resting place.
Sumner, who was awarded the nation’s highest military honor by Ulysses S. Grant for gallant actions after a band of Apaches kidnapped a settler’s child, died in 1912. He’s one of about 3,000 people buried in what was formerly St. Mary’s Cemetery.
“Talk to any veteran, he will tell you it is a terrible thing. It’s disrespectful,” said retired Marine Sgt. Craig “Gunny” Donor, who served two tours in Vietnam and is determined to get the soldier’s remains moved. “I’m trying to get him moved to Bakersfield National Cemetery. He needs to be moved to a place of respect. Cemeteries are solemn places.”
Others say graveyards don’t necessarily need to be grave places — that adding a little life to the cemetery hurts no one, and some go so far as to say that maybe it’s appreciated by the departed.
Though thousands are buried there, only a few dozen markers remain at the 7-acre Cemetery Memorial Park.
Ventura city leaders have so far balked at moving Sumner, saying the park is well maintained and gravesites aren’t being damaged. “We are treating him pretty darn well, except for the poop,” Parks and Recreation Commissioner Sharon Troll told the Ventura County Star.
The commission voted July 21 to postpone for two months Donor’s request to unearth Sumner.
Other cities look a little less kindly on allowing dogs in cemeteries. Concord, New Hampshire, recently passed an ordinance that bans them.
Donor, who lives in Fontana and is a state captain for the Patriot Guard Riders, a motorcycle club that honors fallen veterans, expects the fight to wind up in court. “He has no family, no one else to stand up for him, except for his brothers and sister in arms,” Donor said.
Posted by jwoestendiek August 16th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, army, buried, california, cemeteries, cemetery, craig donor, dog park, dogs, grave, graves, graveyards, gunny, hero, james sumner, medal of honor, parks, pets, rebury, recreation, respect, resting place, sharon troll, ventura, veteran, veterans
A disabled veteran is suing McDonald’s for $10 million, claiming he was harassed, beaten, and told that he couldn’t take his service dog inside.
Former Army captain Luis Carlos Montalvan, who inspired Sen. Al Franken’s first legislative victory — a service dog program for disabled veterans — claims in the lawsuit that he was confronted by restaurant workers on two separate visits, and beaten with garbage can lids when he returned with a camera.
Franken, in an e-mail message to Montalvan last week, called it an “awful, bizarre story,” according to the Star-Tribune.
A spokeswoman for McDonald’s USA said the matter is under investigation.
Montalvan, 36, of Brooklyn, filed the lawsuit in October, a week after Congress approved Franken’s provision establishing a pilot program to pair 200 wounded veterans with service dogs from nonprofit agencies.
Franken said Montalvan and his service dog, a golden retriever named Tuesday — both of whom he had met at a presidential inaugural ball — inspired his proposal.
“Captain Montalvan made great sacrifices fighting for our country in Iraq,” Franken said. “I’m not entirely familiar with the facts of this case, but what I do know underscores both the need to help our returning veterans and to raise awareness and increase access for service dogs.”
Montalvan suffered spinal cord damage and traumatic brain injuries during two tours of duty in Iraq that also left him with post-traumatic stress disorder. Tuesday, his service dog, helps him with balance, mobility and emotional support.
Montalvan’s lawsuit recounts a series of events that began last December, several weeks after he completed service dog training. Visiting a McDonald’s in Brooklyn, Montalvan was told by employees that pets were not allowed. He complained and a supervisor later apologized in writing and assured Montalvan that his dog was welcome.
Montalvan’s dog was barred from the restaurant again in January. Two days later, when Montalvan returned with a camera, the restaurant had been closed due to health code violations, but two McDonald’s workers confronted him and beat him with plastic garbage can lids, he says.
Posted by jwoestendiek November 25th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: access, al franken, army, banned, barred, brooklyn, captain, disabilities, disability, disabled, dogs, handicapped, lawsuit, luis carlos montalvan, mcdonald's, new york, senator, service dogs, veteran, veterans
Sen. Al Franken’s first piece of legislation — aimed at increasing the supply of service dogs for veterans – has been passed and is headed to the White House for approval.
Under the legislation, the Veterans Administration would develop partnerships with organizations that provide disabled veterans with service dogs. Franken said the measure will cost about $5 million and is designed not to interfere with non-profit organizations providing service dogs.
“The government is going to pay for essentially every other dog. What I didn’t want to happen was to dry up the funding for the organizations like Hearing and Service Dogs in Minneapolis and all of these non-profits who have been providing dogs to some vets.”
Franken said about 200 veterans will get dogs as a result of the legislation. The legislation was passed yesterday as apart of the Defense Authorization bill, according to Minnesota Public Radio.
Franken introduced the legislation after meeting Luis Carlos Montalvan, a veteran who said his service dog improved his quality of life.
Posted by jwoestendiek October 24th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: act, al franken, approved, authorization, defense, dog, dogs, law, luis carlos montalvan, minnesota, passed, passes, sen., senate, senator, service, soldiers, veterans, vets, white house
There are those who say psychiatric service dogs aren’t “real” service dogs — that, unlike guide dogs for the blind, they merely make their owners feel good and provide nothing more than comfort.
Iraq war veteran Jennifer Pacanowski sees it differently — especially after, unaware she was going 85 miles an hour on the freeway, a wet nose nudged her elbow, bringing her back to reality.
The wet nose belonged to Boo, a 110-pound Bull Mastiff who warns her when her anxiety levels are rising. Pacanowski slowed down, and lived to tell the story, which is recounted in an article on psychiatric service dogs in U.S. News & World Report.
The article reveals that the U.S. Department of Defense is starting a 12-month study to find out exactly how the dogs help — by comparing soldiers with PTSD who have dogs with a similar group of soldiers without a dog. Researchers will measure changes in symptoms and medication use.
“We want to provide evidence for something we know observationally and help create a movement towards the use of psychiatric service dogs,” said lead investigator Craig T. Love, senior study director at Westat, a research corporation in Rockville, Md. “It’s time to make a change.”
Pacanowski is one of dozens of veterans and others who already know what the study seeks to substantiate. Boo, only a year old, has been helping her deal with her post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) — a result of her experiences as a medic in the war — since December.
“Sometimes I forget where I am and will go back to the war in Iraq. He brings me back to reality and makes me realize that I can’t run people off the road. It’s a frequent thing with PTSD to have road rage,” said Pacanowski, who lives in northeastern Pennsylvania.
Boo is one of a team of “psychiatric service dogs” being used to help people with various mental health issues, including bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders and, perhaps most notably, PTSD.
“If a dog observes when a person with PTSD is escalating, the dog will be able to signal that they are escalating and, given it’s so early in process, the person can manage and even prevent the escalation,” explained Joan Gibbon Esnayra, president and founder of the Psychiatric Dog Service Association.
The dogs have been in service for about 12 years and while patients and professionals alike know they work wonders, there has been no real empirical evidence of their value — and, as a result, they often receive neither the respect or funding opportunities of guide dogs.
“A recent survey showed that 82 percent of patients with PTSD who were assigned a dog had a decrease in symptoms, and 40 percent had a decrease in the medications they had to take,” added Dr. Melissa Kaime, director of the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP), who spoke at a telebriefing last month. “I fully expect this will be positive trial.”
You can learn more about psychiatric service dogs at the Psychiatric Service Dog Society website.
Posted by jwoestendiek September 4th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: boo, department of defense, dog, dogs, iraq war, jennifer pacanowski, mastiff, post traumatic stress disorder, psychiatric service dogs, ptsd, soldiers, study, therapy, u.s. news & world report, veterans
We liked him as a comedian, and early indications are we’ll like him as a politician — not that we see too vast a difference between the two.
In his first piece of legislation as Minnesota’s junior senator, Al Franken is trying to expand the number of service dogs available to wounded veterans.
In an opinion piece published Monday in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Franken proposed a pilot program that will train “a statistically significant number of dogs,” put them to work and measure the benefits they provide to veterans living with devastating war injuries.
Franken believes the dogs’ companionship provides invaluable health benefits — both physical and emotional — to veterans suffering from debilitating injuries and psychological disorders.
The service dogs will help “reduce the suicide rate among veterans, decrease the number of hospitalizations and lower the cost of medications and human care,” he said.
Franken’s said the legislation was inspired by a meeting he had last January with a wounded former Iraqi intelligence officer and his golden retriever, “Tuesday.”
“Service dogs like Tuesday can be of immense benefit to vets suffering from physical and emotional wounds,” wrote Franken.
Franken said service dogs typically cost about $20,000 to train and another $5,000 to place with a veteran — a cost that is well worth the investment.
“It is my strong belief that a service dog will more than pay for itself over its life, and my bill is designed to determine the return on investment with a pilot program that provides service dogs to hundreds of veterans,” said Franken.
Franken’s bill would be his first piece of legislation since officially becoming a senator on July 7.
Posted by jwoestendiek July 22nd, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: al franken, assistance, bill, commentary, disorder, dogs, emotional, injuries, law, legislation, minnesota, proposed, psychological, senator, service, suicide, train, trauma, tuesday, veterans