• Study finds service dogs beneficial for veterans with PTSD

    By: Danielle Avitable , Action News Jax

    Updated:

    Treating post-traumatic stress disorder with a service dog is the subject of a new study that seeks to prove the health benefits of animals to people suffering from the condition.

    For the first time, a new study shows that veterans with PTSD may reap mental health benefits by having a service dog.

    “I’ve been waiting for this study to come out so that the VA can finally do what their supposed to do and stop screwing us around,” veteran James Rutland said.

    It’s the first published research of its kind and it measured cortisol levels.

    Healthy adults have an increase in cortisol levels after waking up and this study found that veterans with a service dog produced more cortisol in the morning than those on the waitlist for a service dog.

    “It’s groundbreaking. This is going to send shockwaves across all the policy makers in Washington, D.C.,” K9s For Warriors CEO Rory Diamond said.

    Rutland said he is living proof that service dogs work.

    He was in the Army for 12 years and, after being deployed to Iraq for more than a year, he said he came home with PTSD.

    “You could only do so many medication cocktails before you realize medication can’t be the only solution,” Rutland said.

    Rutland said he tried all kinds of different treatment for his PTSD and nothing worked for him until he got his service dog.

    “For me, I know that dogs are what’s going to work for me. They understand the problems before we know it happens,” Rutland said.

    Diamond said this research will help get his organization more funding, which, in turn will help more veterans.

    “Now we have it. It’s peer-reviewed, hard science published in a prestigious journal that says these dogs work,” Diamond said.

    As of now, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs does not provide service dogs for PTSD treatment. 

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