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March 12, 2021

Another Push in a Decade Long Struggle for the VA to Provide Service Dogs to Vets

The Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers Act (PAWS Act) was recently introduced in the United States House of Representatives. If the PAWS Act is enacted, the VA would be required to provide and pay for service dogs for veterans suffering from mental health issues. Currently, the VA does not fund service dogs programs, but does cover some costs of service dogs for veterans with certain disabilities, such as blindness. Despite multiple studies showing how crucial canine therapy can be, the VA has never recognized their value as a mental health treatment. Although the VA has been researching the issue for over a decade and has found that veterans with service dogs pose a lower risk of suicide than those without emotional support animals, the VA has yet to make a move toward creating a service dog program. This is the fourth time the PAWS Act has been introduced in some form - last year it passed the House but made no headway in the Senate.