A researcher with the University of Missouri Research Center for Human Animal Interaction says shelter dogs and veterans have a lot to offer each other. Rebecca Johnson started a program pairing dogs and veterans for a three-phase project aimed at helping both be ready to return to society.
Video courtesy of the MU News Bureau
She says the program has three steps. The first is teaching the dogs basic skills like sitting and staying. The second is for veterans to follow-up with the dogs once they’ve been adopted by calling the dogs’ new homes.
The third phase is identifying of any dogs would be good companions for veterans with severe post traumatic stress disorder. She says the dogs offer the veterans a chance to get some unconditional love and understanding after coming back from war. She says post traumatic stress disorder is common among veterans, and working with the dogs can help ease the transition.
PTSD service dogs are placed with veterans who have such severe post traumatic stress disorder that they need a companion to help them through everyday life.
Johnson says there have been 12 veterans in the program, but over 100 dogs. She says sometimes the dogs and veterans get along so well, the veterans adopt the dogs before the training is even over. She says they would like more veterans in the program, so they’re actively recruiting. It’s a two-hour a week commitment. The program started earlier this year, and is going to start in Springfield at the Humane Society there.