Veterans wanted for assistance-dog trial

A second cohort of assistance-dog-trial puppies will soon be recruited at La Trobe University and suitable Melbourne-based veterans are being sought for the trial.

FILE PHOTO: A trained PTSD dog on an airplane with its owner. CSTDA photo.

La Trobe University’s Pauleen Bennett said that they were seeking veterans to take part in the second cohort of the assistance-dog trial.

“A new group of puppies will soon join the second cohort of the trial, and therefore we are seeking veterans living in the Melbourne area, who are being treated for the management of clinically diagnosed PTSD, to take part in this next phase,” Professor Bennett said.

“The trial is a comprehensive process that takes into account the specific needs of the participating veteran – such as determining the most appropriate breed and temperament of dog to support the veteran’s mental health needs, and the bonding process between the dog and participant.

“We expect these dogs will improve the veterans’ sleep quality, as well as confidence to socialise with others in their community and engage in everyday life.”

To find out more about the trial and how to participate, email DogsOnCampus@latrobe.edu.au

The assistance-dog trial was announced in September last year and commenced about three months ago.

Minister for Veterans and Defence Personnel Darren Chester met today with La Trobe University and the Centre for Service and Therapy Dogs Australia (CSTDA) to talk about the progress of the $2 million assistance dog trial, funded by the government.

Read CONTACT blogger Melanie Scott K9 Training insights.

“The first group of dogs have been living with their foster families for the past three months, and are undertaking weekly training over a 12-month period,” Mr Chester said.

“Participating veterans are also undergoing training on how to become handlers of psychiatric assistance dogs over that time.

“I’m pleased to see the trial is progressing well, and am confident that this approach to supporting veterans with PTSD will make a meaningful difference to their lives.

“This is the first time the Federal government has provided financial backing to a trial of this nature and something that I am proud to support.”

Mr Chester said the trial outcomes would enable evidence to be collected to inform future policy and help the government to continue to meet the mental-health needs of veterans.

“In addition to the trial, DVA will soon be providing psychiatric assistance dogs to eligible veterans who are undertaking existing treatment for the management of PTSD.

“This will allow DVA to respond to the needs of veterans now, while continuing to collect evidence through the work with La Trobe University.”

 

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Brian Hartigan

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