“While numerous studies have confirmed that companion animals help reduce stress, anxiety and depression, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has cited a lack of specific scientific evidence on the effectiveness of service animals for war veterans suffering from PTSD and TBI,” said Steven Feldman, executive director at HABRI. “We are committed to addressing this gap in peer-reviewed science so that every veteran who needs a service animal can get one.”
To explore the effect of service dogs on war veterans suffering from PTSD and TBI, the Purdue-led study will monitor the health and wellness of the K9s For Warriors participants including medical, physiological, and self-perception indicators. It is hypothesized that the veterans who have service dogs will demonstrate better health and wellness compared to those receiving other treatment services while on the waitlist for a service dog.
“While there are existing PTSD treatments available for veterans, a number of them have limited effectiveness and high drop-out rates,” said Marguerite O’Haire, Ph.D., Purdue University. “This controlled research study will document the impact of service dogs on veterans, which may provide an effective addition to enhance current practices.”
Providing service dogs at no cost to war veterans suffering from PTSD and/or TBI as a result of military service post-9/11, K9s For Warriors is dedicated to encouraging and empowering warriors to transition back into civilian life with independence. K9s For Warriors program participants will take part in the study and will be evaluated by researchers.
“K9s For Warriors has achieved a high success rate with our program, which trains and pairs more than 70 dogs and veterans each year,” said Rory Diamond, K9s For Warriors executive director. “We’ve seen first-hand how service dogs in our program have positively impacted dozens of war heroes and we are eager to validate our work through hard science.”
“As an active duty Navy veteran and current Naval Reserve officer, I am proud that K9s For Warriors is located in Florida’s 6th Congressional District,” said Congressman Ron DeSantis. “The announcement of this important research will validate and ultimately help take the K9s For Warriors model to many more veterans suffering from PTSD who could benefit from a trained service dog.”
A key supporter of HABRI research projects and the K9s For Warriors program, Bayer HealthCare Animal Health is a global leader in animal health and a proud partner to K9s For Warriors, most recently implementing a donation program to enable dog owners across the country to help give back to Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans. During the special promotion period, now through May 31, 2015, when dog owners purchase K9 Advantix II, Bayer will donate $1 per package, up to $150,000, to K9s For Warriors.
“Bayer believes in the power of the human-animal bond,” said David Van Brunt, vice president of marketing, Bayer HealthCare Animal Health. “HABRI and Bayer’s support of K9s For Warriors demonstrates and honors the unbreakable bond between warriors and their service dogs—a unique bond that is also shared across America by all dog owners and their dogs.”