Service Dog Approval
The VA may soon be required to open all of its facilities up to service dogs that accompany veterans. But not all service dogs are created equal.
The bill in question, HR 1627, requires that VA facilities give access to service dogs, but only if those dogs have been trained and accredited.
The problem is that many veterans currently use service dogs that do not have the required training or accreditation. Veterans that have been going to VA for years may no longer be allowed to enter the facilities if their dog does not meet the requirements.
Under the current rules, only seeing-eye dogs are guaranteed access. Access of other service dogs, such as those that accompany vets suffering from PTSD, is governed by local rules and inconsistently applied.
According to VA officials, the concern is that it is relatively easy to obtain a vest and bogus ID for a dog showing it is “registered.” There have even been reports of supposedly trained service dogs trying to attack people in VA facilities. These are the types of dogs the VA is trying to prevent from entering its facilities.
Christina Roof, a veterans’ advocate, said she believes a law allowing access to veterans’ facilities for all manner of service dogs is a step in the right direction. These disabled veterans deserve the same access to VA care and facilities as do blind veterans using guide dogs.
As a board member at service dog trainer Stiggy’s Dogs, and having worked with dozens of veterans with service dogs, I know there are plenty of well-trained service dogs helping our veterans. We should not create barriers for taking these therapeutic animals into VA facilities.
The bill was passed in the Senate and now moves to the House.
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