Animals help improve the lives of those suffering with PTSD

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, February 6, 2018

If signed into law, proposed amendments to House Bill 944 will allow veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder to bring registered service animals into public places and business.

Currently, the only people with this privilege are those who are blind or physically impaired. However, if passed, the changes to the bill will add experiencing a traumatic event or suffering PTSD to the “qualifying list of disabilities and impairments for which an individual may be provided the use of a support animal,” the amendment states.

According to an article in the US National Library of Medicine, PTSD affects a significant portion of the country, with approximately 7.8 percent of the population suffering from it. PTSD “can lead to substantial work and social impairments,” the article states. According to another article in the Society for Military Psychology, approximately 13-20 percent of veterans deployed to combat zones develop post-traumatic stress disorder. Of these men and women, only about 40 percent of those who seek professional treatment experience a significant improvement of their symptoms, the article states.

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However, while traditional treatments may not work for everyone, there is evidence to suggest that service animals may fill that gap and increase the quality of life for PTSD sufferers. According to the article in the US National Library of Medicine, support animals can, “act as a comforting reminder that danger is no longer present, elicit positive emotions and warmth, [act] as social facilitators that can connect people,” and can reduce loneliness and anxiety. According to the proposed changes to HB 944, “the term ‘support animal’ does not mean an animal considered a pet.”

In other words, support animals are those trained to help and to serve a specific purpose. For many suffering with PTSD and other mental disorders, support animals aren’t just pets – they are necessary for the person’s mental or physical wellbeing. If passed, the changes to HB 944 will allow a greater number of people to take advantage of the support their animal brings to their every aspect of life – personal and professional.