Veterans’ Affairs expands psychiatric assistance dog program

Veterans’ Affairs expands psychiatric assistance dog program

AUGUST 5 2020 – 12:00AM | Julia Kanapathippillai

Service dog Jaeger in training. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong

Service dog Jaeger in training. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong

The Royal Society for the Blind of South Australia and Canberra-based Integra Service Dogs Australia will now supply support dogs to the scheme.

“Adding two new providers will increase the availability of psychiatric assistance dogs and ensure the growing demand from eligible veterans can be met.”

Integra Service Dogs Australia National Training Coordinator Ken Lloyd knows personally the impact a support dog can make.

“As a veteran, understanding what other veterans and first responders go through in relation to PTSD, it’s a tremendous opportunity for us to have a direct impact in helping those individuals overcome their illness,” Mr Lloyd said.

Integra Service Dogs Australia trains their psychiatric assistance dogs to do a number of tasks to help veteran handlers.

“Psychiatric assistance dogs can provide sleep nightmare disruption, personal space buffering to increase distance between the individual and the rest of the general public so they feel more comfortable going out into the public domain,” Mr Lloyd said.

The Department of Veterans’ Affairs report that its received more than 140 applications for psychiatric assistance dogs.

To be eligible for a psychiatric assistance dog, veterans must hold a veteran gold or white card.

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They must also have a diagnosis of PTSD and be engaged with treatment from a mental health professional for a minimum of three months.

The Department of Veterans’ Affairs are continuing research into the effectiveness of psychiatric assistance dogs through a partnership with La Trobe University.

Integra Service Dogs Australia chief executive Ben Johnson said it was an enormous opportunity for his company to expand their service to veterans around Australia.

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READ THE ARTICLE HERE: https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/6864421/veterans-affairs-expands-psychiatric-assistance-dog-program/?cs=19265&fbclid=IwAR1FgqHf-myPR4CUguT1JFtfQ59R5AU2XfiMHcxnUNbZimDSrl7aSWfSL9s

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