Northeast Florida Congressman John Rutherford [R-FL-4] has introduced a bill on February 11, 2021, that would require the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to provide service dogs to military veterans diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It’s called the Puppies Assisting Wounded Service Members (PAWS) Act.
If passed, the PAWS Act would require the Department of Veterans Affairs to carry out a five-year program to provide grants to nonprofit organizations that provide service dogs to veterans who suffer from the post-traumatic stress disorder.
The PAWS Act would provide funds needed by these service dog organizations to go towards veterinary health insurance policies for the dogs, hardware required for the dog to perform the tasks necessary to assist the veteran, and payments for travel expenses to get the service dog.
Additionally, the VA would be required to develop data to measure the improvement in the psychosocial function of the veterans and any changes in dependence on prescription narcotics.
Organizations eligible for the $25,000 grant must meet the following requirements:
- Be a nonprofit organization
- Provide Service Dogs to Veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Meets the Publicly Available National Standard of the Association of Service Dog Providers for Military Veterans (ASDPMV)
- Has Expertise in the Unique Needs of Veterans with PTSD
- Agree to Cover the Costs Associated with Providing Services in Excess of the Grant Amount
- Agree to Reaccept or Replace any Service Dog Provided to a Veteran Using the Grant
The funding shall be used to provide a complete service dog to eligible veterans along with covering costs for travel and follow-on training.
Supporters should contact their elected members of Congress to ask them to co-sponsor H.R. 1022. You can find the current list of Co-Sponsors here: https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/house-bill/1022/cosponsors .
ASDPMV’s National Standards can be found here: servicedogs4vets.org/service-dogs-national-standards.
Find out more up to date information about The PAWS Act here: https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/house-bill/1022