This bill — known as the Puppies Assisting Wounded Veterans (or PAWS) Act — would require the Dept. of Veterans Affairs (VA) to create a five-year pilot program to provide service dogs to veterans diagnosed with and suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The program would function by connecting eligible veterans with nonprofit organizations that are certified in training service dogs meet certain standards, and providing the nonprofit with a grant of $25,000 for each eligible veteran it trains a service dog to pair with.
The VA would have to review and approve qualifying veterans’ applications within 90 days, and veterans paired with service dogs would have to see a VA healthcare provider or clinical team at least once every 180 days to verify that they’d continue to benefit from a service dog.
Among the qualifications the service dog trainer would need to fulfill include:
Certification by Assistance Dogs International;
Provide, on average, 30 hours or more of one-on-one training for each service dog and recipient over the course of 90 or more days;
Obtain a wellness checkup from a licensed veterinarian for each dog;
Ensure all service dogs pass the American Kennel Club Community Canine test and the Assistance Dogs International Public Access test before they’re permanently placed;
Provide follow-up services for the life of the service dog that includes a contact plan that allows the veteran and organization
Funding for the program would total $10 million and would be funded through money appropriated to the human resources and administration of the VA.