The Veteran’s Affairs Department is about to conduct a study of the effectiveness of service dogs for treating post-traumatic stress disorder. The study, “Can Service Dogs Improve Activity and Quality of Life in Veterans with PTSD” will measure the impact of a service dog compared to a pet.
220 veterans will participate in the study, and are currently undergoing dog care training. They will be divided into two groups. Half will be teamed with a service dog trained to address the disability, and the other half will be teamed with an emotional support dog. The latter are pets with obedience training, but without PTSD service training.
Is there a difference?
Yes. First of all, a well trained service dog costs at least $10,000, and often up to $25,000. Service dogs are covered under the American with Disabilities Act and are allowed to accompany their human in all public spaces.
Emotional support dogs are well-trained pets that provide support and comfort. They are not covered under the ADA, but they do have some protection on commercial airlines and under the Fair Housing Act.
If there is a measurable difference between the groups, service dogs might become an accepted PTSD treatment covered by VA.