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Allan Schwartz, Ph.D.Allan Schwartz, Ph.D.
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Veterans, PTSD and Psychiatric Service Dogs

Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D. Updated: Jun 6th 2008

 In the previous posting we discussed the invisible disorder, PTSD. The discussion included a variety of reasons why Iraq and Afghani veterans have difficulty getting the help they need if, among other things, they suffer from PTSD. One of the greatest obstacles these veterans face is their own resistance to admitting they need help. The physical injuries suffered by these veterans are caused by combat, are visible and are both explainable and, in certain ways are acceptable. However, because PTSD falls into the category of a psychiatric disorder, many soldiers think of it as stigmatizing and unacceptable. In addition, except for close family and friends, very few people are aware of the symptoms suffered by these vets        

In order to review, the symptoms of PTSD include such things as:

1. Anger and irritability.

2. Startle responses to sudden noises or movements.

3. Extreme anxiety and panic attacks.

4. Depression.

5. Social withdrawal and self isolation.

6. Nightmares and sleep disturbance (nightmares are often flashbacks to combat and are experienced as very real).

7. And many other symptoms that can be found in the former article and elsewhere on Mental Help Net.

What Is A Psychiatric Service Dog?

Psychiatric service dogs are specially trained animals that are certified by private service dog organizations such as: Golden Kimba Service Dogs, NEADS(North East Assistance Dog Society, located in MA), and others that can be found on the Web at Assistance Dogs International(

Puppies Behind Bars (New York City) is one of the organizations that trains and places these dogs with injured Iraq and Afghan war veterans. This organization uses Labrador Retriever puppies that are paired with carefully selected prisoners who are taught to raise and train the dogs from eight weeks to fifteen months of age. The dogs are bred and selected for their calm temperament and are trained by the prisoners to do such things as:

Physical Disabilities:

1. Walk alongside a wheel chair.

2. Open a refrigerator door and pull bagged lunches out and bring to the disabled veteran.

3. Help the veteran undress by pulling sox off his feet.

4. Jump up and push the light switch on.

5. Bring the ringing telephone to the disabled vet.

6. And many other remarkable chores that allow the disabled vet to function independently.

In terms of PTSD, these dogs are trained to:

1. Accompany the veteran into stores, restaurants, buses, trains, air planes, work and any other public places that the vet may need to go.

2. Allow the veteran to remain calm by preventing people from crowding around him in public places by placing his or her self in front the vet thus providing a comfortable space for the vet.

3. Watching behind the veteran by calmly preventing anyone by rushing up behind him and surprising him. (The dog is never aggressive towards people but just provides a barrier and alerts the vet to people who may be approaching from behind).

4. Provide a reassuring presence for the vet by anticipating his needs both at home and outside in public.

How do Psychiatric Service Dogs Help Veterans with PTSD?

Many people ask this question, including the psychiatrists who treat these patients before they are willing to write a prescription for this specially trained type of dog.

Specifically, behavioral goals are set by the veteran and dog trainer who is helping the vet learn how to use the dog. This is where the certifying organizations come in such as, Golden Kimba Service Dogs or NEADS, both mentioned above.

After the dogs receive their training at Puppies Behind Bars or elsewhere, they are shipped to the certifying organizations such as Golden Kimba Service Dogs, etc, where they meet their new trainer who completes what was started in training. The dog is exposed to public places as much as possible to prepare them for life in the outside world with the veteran.

One or two weeks later, the veteran arrives and meets his or her dog. From then onward, they work with the trainer to learn everything that is needed to form a powerful bond between dog and veteran and to live in the outside world. Depending on the behavioral goals of the veteran, and that depends on the nature of the symptoms, the veteran learns to use his dog to help him function with a minimum of interference from those symptoms.

One of the challenges faced by the veteran is helping his family understand that the dog is not their pet but is his ally and helper in the world. That is why family is encouraged to accompany the veteran in this part of the training. For example, no one in the family is to walk and feed the dog. Also, the dog is Never to be left at home for any reason. Even when visiting the doctor and the psychiatrist the dog is to accompany the veteran. All of this is easier for family to understand and accept if they are present at training, can ask questions and learn about both the dog and PTSD. While I cannot report any scientific studies done to measure the effectiveness of these dogs in reducing PTSD for veterans I am able to state that Golden Kimba Service Dogs has seen these people make remarkable gains in the way they live their lives after they return home with their dog.

Psychiatric service dogs help veterans over come their social isolation in the following way:

Because the service dog needs to be walked several times per day, the veteran is forced to be outside and in public. The dog must wear an identifying cape with the training company logo on it and the vet wears a picture of ID of himself and the dog. While the purpose of the cape and ID are not designed to attract public attention, this attention happens to the benefit of the vet who is forced to answer questions of well meaning people who want to learn about the dog. In working with the trainer and the dog, in public, the veteran learns how to answer questions and deal with a curious public.

Many veterans with these dogs have reported that their anxieties and fears have been greatly reduced as a result of having the dog with them at all times. In fact, several of them reported that when they suddenly awaken at night due to a having a nightmare or hearing a noise in the house, feel relieved and calm when they realize their dog is perfectly calm and quiet. After all, if the nightmare were real, or if there were an intruder in the house, the dog would be barking and agitated.


It can be well imagined that providing these dogs is an expensive process. The Veterans Administration does not pay for any of this. However, Puppies Behind Bars has a very effective fund raising program and is able to pay for those veterans who qualify for a psychiatric assistance dog.

Puppies Behind Bars may be found at the following web site:

Questions and comments about this are welcome.

Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D.

Readers who live in the Boulder, Colorado metro area, or in Southwest Florida may contact Dr. Schwartz for face-to-face consultation. He is also available for psychotherapy through Skype video for those who are not in Florida or Colorado. He can be reached via email at for details.

Reader Comments
Discuss this issue below or in our forums.

certification issue - David Griffith - Mar 23rd 2015

NO certification is required for a dog to meet ADA standards, however,......The VA is a whole different animal altogether.


You can get lined up with an agency who will supply ADI certified,....(NOT ADA), dogs for hearing or sight. The VA currently does NOT authorize service dogs for PTSD at all!

In order to be eligible for the VA  K-9 benefit for a service dog of any type, it must be ADI certified according to "The Final Rule" listed in The Federal Register. AS of this memmo, I know of no such agency certifying dogs for PTSD to ADI standards who is authorized to officially certify such a dog as "ADI Certified".

Currently the VA only recognizes sight, hearing and mobility as recognized modalities for service/guide dogs. Clearly, much work needs to be done here.

Please I just need help. - Curtis Westfall - Sep 17th 2014

As long as this has taken for me to even get the strength up to send this out I feel regrets. I'm an 100% disabled Veteran, also a single father. My child doesn't crap PTSD enough to understand it but is a constant witness of this and I hate this. We are in need of a service lab to help and just be there by my side now that my warriors are gone. I hate to ask for this help there's others who need help as well and I don't stand out above them I just stand with them. But when you look Into the eyes of your child and there's tears being held back its time for a new start on life. If you have any contacts or know the way to a service lab. You will make the difference in this veterans life and family. I would be in your dept. With respect thank you.

Looking for a PTSD companion would love to have a husky - Gabe - Aug 13th 2014

My name is [full name removed by editor]. i am 31yrs. old. I have been dealing with PTSD since 05. I was in the Army Infantry 3ID 3rd brigade 1/15 Infantry. I withdrew from school to go serve my Country right after 9-11 because that's what I believe was right to do. I figured I could better serve my Country by being in the Infantry. I did 3 total deployments including the invasion of Iraq, an full deployment 05/06, and 1st deployment was Kuwait. I don't regret my decision til this day! I am currently in a PTSD residential program at the Dayton VA. I have a lot of anger, depression, anxiety, isolation/distant issues, safety issues,trust issues, mood swings,nightmares and flashbacks. I have messed up a lot of my relationships because of it. Coming here was my last option because combat ptsd has affected my life right now in a bad way. I am a high school track n field/ cross country coach cause that does help me with my ptsd. Didn't mean to write a book but thought it was important to tell it which I am starting to open up just alittle bit. Thanks for taking the time out to read. Gabe 

Service Dog Encounter - Vi - Jul 16th 2014

I'm not familiar with these dogs but was at the clinic today, in the waiting room, and a man came in with a remarkable service dog. The dog was so very professional and attentive to the man. The dog also overlooked everyone in the room, but noticed me, and made eye contact, staring at me for a long time. My relative also noticed him staring at me. Finally, I heard the man tell a lady that the dog was for depression/anxiety. Guess what I was at the clinic for, the very same thing. To me, it was amazing that the dog was staring at me across the sitting area off to the side. I'm convinced that he sensed anxiety in me or smelled antidepressant medication. If I were wealthy, this training is what I would donate to.

System abuse - - Feb 6th 2014

The service dog permits are being abused  yesterday i was at the VA in San Diego when this lady wheeled in with two small dogs ,everyone marveled at how cute they were ,they really was cute, however service dogs they were not, then another guy came in with his dog ,the two little dogs squared off with the larger dog growling an barking for a few minutes,the larger dog owner admitted that it was easy to get a service dog permit, i don't know ,i just think the system is being gamed. A sign at the door is not enough abuse hurts truly disable people.

God bless

Joe S.



Service Dog regulations for Veterans going to the VA - - Aug 12th 2013

I run an organization that trains Psychiatric Service Dogs for veterans and I feel that this needs to be pointed out. Last year, there was a law signed into effect that states the VA may disallow (ask you to leave) dogs that are not trained by an Assistance Dogs International program (ADI). This means no more owner trained service dogs. There are some ADI affiliated programs that will allow you to owner train your own dog through their program and your dog receives certification through their program. The reason for this is because many people were bringing their pets to the VA and calling them Service Dogs. Keep in mind not every dog can handle the stress of being a service dog. This was resulting in dog fights, people getting bitten, and owners who did not know the regulations/laws about their responsibilities as service dog handlers.

Just a heads up for those of you who use the VA for their services and want to owner train your own service dog.

How do I get a dog - Kelly S. Parrson - Jun 5th 2013

I had a service dog until I moved to Green Bay Wisconsin and the apartment complex would not let me keep him. So I have to jump through all the hoops and I am not sure I can . How can I get hep since she help me walk a straght line and would stop and crubs and helped very much with my depression. Why is the war so tough when you get home just for basic needs. I have a worsening TBI sezues, dizzy spells vetigo can't walk  a staright line and severe PTSD. No one seems to care do you have any ideas.


Captain Parrson, PA, MS, 65D

Disabled and Disapointed

PTSD Service Dogs - - Feb 5th 2013

Alpha K9 is a Veteran owned business. They train PTSD dogs. I saw them on our local news and in person. I thought the dogs were great. I plan on getting my brother a dog from them. He was a Firefighter. After years of what he has seen he too has PTSD.

ada might not but states do - - Jan 20th 2013

Although the ADA doesnt require you to certify your pet certain states do. its always simple to just look it up before you go somewhere. but its always easy to be safe than sorry/ if you go somewhere and have your pets id and all for the certification they cant kick you out they will have a lawsuit on them.

My social fears - - Sep 6th 2012

My service dog is a very beautiful lab/golden mix. I have huge anxiety about being in the public, I bristle and i am super anxious. Trip goes into protective mode and growls I get more anxious and I want to withdrawal more. People pet my dog when I am not looking. I lose my mind and explode at them. He wears a big orange vest that says service dog, do not pet. But they do.


I am typing this so that those reading will be correctly informed that the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA ")does NOT require service dogs to be registered or certified. It is incorrectly written several times on this website that you have to go to some type of professional organization to have your dog certified or registered in order to be considered a service animal.  There is a great post near the bottom of the page correctly stating the law.  Anyone who has or needs a service dog should do the research on the ADA website to get informed and you can buy or get a "service dog" vest online fairly cheaply and print out the ADA law to give to restaurants, hotels, and other places where you are trying to legally take your service animal so as to avoid any problems.  The ADA's definition of disability as having to interfere with one or more daily life functions and other information and so forth is fairly easy to learn and offers great protections.  You can train your own service dog; I did so in the past two years after sustaining a serious injury at my work.  I found that often professionals, including doctors can be grossly misinformed and businesses often do not know the law.  So, please for all of you out there--STAY HOPEFUL, STAY POSITIVE AND LEARN YOUR RIGHTS SO YOU CAN DO ALL YOU CAN TO TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF AND YOUR DOG!  To all the military, thank you for your service; I am researching and we all should be learning more about and writing to our Congressmen and women about changing current policy of the Army and other military branches to measure up the the protections afforded all other (non military) citizens under the ADA.  It is beyond appalling that military bases do not have to allow service dogs on their bases unless the dog is provided by groups approved by Assistance Dogs International.  Before January of 2012, service dogs were in fact allowed on Army posts under the ADA.  Please get informed and we can all do our parts to help veterans.  I am trying in the next week to write and mail a letter to California Congress men and women about this critical issue.  Having worked professionally as a social worker and attorney and having suffered PTSD, no other issue concerns me more right now!  My thoughts and prayers to all of you posting on here in need of help.   

why are service dogs provided only to vets with ptsd? - angela ridenour - Jul 10th 2012
I am 33 years old,single mom,and have now been suffering all symptoms of ptsd for 10 months now..unable to get proper treatment/therapy/medication/or support financialy or mentally and emotionally,i could benefit enormously from one of these amazing pets(angels)! if anyone knows how to get information on obtaining some companionship for a non-vet with nothing and noone,please would change an existance into a life again! thank you for your time and god bless you and hold you safe!

why - Calvin ( Butch ) Hesselgesser - Apr 30th 2012

I enjoyed your artical but i am always a little ticked off when people ignore us Combat Vets from Vietnam we have she same issues that the current vets have and i feel we are still treated like trash by a lot of people,I have PTSD was a POW and was given a prescption by my dr for a service dog, I have a dog that i accuired for this and she and i are in training now i was over two years before i found a dog and the VA never helped me with anything.

Let me help those whom follow behind! - Brandi - Jan 19th 2012

Im a 23 yr Afghan War Vet, whom was sexually assaulted while in country. I am PTSD and depression diagnoised and have been prescribed a service dog.

I recieved approval from my chain of command all the way to my Sergeant Major of my Battalion. 2 weeks of living in the barracks.. I was told I could not have my service dog there and would have to find my own housing for the dog. 3 weeks go buy and I could no longer afford it, making 1800 roughly a month with NO BAH!

Now... I sit here and i wait.. stressfully.
My Post commander was approached by a freind NCO of mine of the issue of me pretty much being kicked out of the barracks.. the GENERAL!! stated he fixed the issue of ALLOWING SOLDIERS and their dogs in the barracks a year ago.. I go back to my barracks room only to know get told, the general denied my packet to remain in the barracks with the dog and I now have 3 options:

A.) Board the dog out of my own pocket--- WTF good is MY SERVICE dog going to do boarded up at night away from ME?!

B.) Give the dog back to the service dog trainer-- and then back to the shelter so she can be put down?!?!

C.) Wait to possibly get or BE DENIED BAH!

--Im told if I go for C, that they will need a full write up of WHY i need my service dog.. Isnt this a fu**king HIPPA violation?!?


SOMEONE Help Please. Contact me @  with any information you can give to me.. I am going through a medical evaulation board, but these things can take months- to a year plus.. I want to be able to get the word out there for those others soldiers whom may follow in my steps behind me.... to help the single soldiers whom suffer from PTSD and could grow from the help of a service dog, and allow them to stay in the barracks! Or at least get BAH! without having to tell their story!!


Thank you


How do I go about getting a certification for a PTSD service dog? - John Graham, SGT (Ret.) - Dec 28th 2011

Thank you for the wonderful information on this site, but I have an intelligent, calm, and submissive mixbreed working dog.  He has help we cope we my PTSD from my tours in Iraq, during 2003 through 2005.  I got him when he was a pup in March of 2006 and started training him to reacted calmly to me when I was having night terror, nightmares, or flashbacks.  Let me back up a little bit, in Feb of 2006, I left the Active Army and enlisted in the National Guard.  Then in March of 2008 and became extremely ill from wounds occured during my tours. I was reactived for medical retreated and in July of 2009 I was medically retired.  I am also 90% disabled out of the VA.  With my canine support I was able to regain some freedom, but it is still very hard for me to go out into public and I want to contiune my college career.  How do I go about getting him the extra training and the certification for service animal in Texas or any state for that matter.

Thank you and God Bless all our Troops past, present, and future.

John Graham, SGT (Ret.) 

Looking to get a dog to help with PTSD - Rick - Dec 15th 2011

Hi!  I am currently a PTSD disabled Desert Storm Vet with multiple health issues...COPD, pulmonary embolism, chronic pain, and many more.  I am currently having severe anxiety and depression.  Was told about service dogs helping with PTSD and wondering a few things: 1. How do I go about get approved for one?  2. How and where do I find one?  I am looking for a little dog I can carry around and hold on my lap.  I'm really looking forward to hearing some advice.  Thank you!!

Need a Companion animal suffering severe moderate depression - MAH - Dec 6th 2011

Question: I have a small dog that I really really look forward to being with as much as possible. She lights up my days and makes me feel way better. I"m in the process of seeing how she can become my companion animal? I've been avoiding the dr.'s but I want to get some kind of note and also found out she can actually move with me to my new apartment because It would destroy me if she couldn't move with me.  I love that dog so much and she helps me soooooooo much! We definately need each other.

Suggestions greatly appreciated.




VA Service Dog Regulations - Paul - Nov 17th 2011

As with many of those writing comments here, I too suffer from severe PTSD and major depressive disorder, along with several service connected issues.  Further, I am a Viet Nam Combat Veteran that has suffered for many, many years with this affliction.  I am in search of veterans service organizations that will donate a trained PTSD service animal.  Additionally, I do not know how many veterans may be a ware of the changes in Title 38 USC/CFR, Chapter 17.  

1.  ADA Act has changed its\\\' definition of service animal to strictly dogs (however under certain circumstances they may allow a miniature horse).  Too, please be aware of the laws in your state as the Act does require licensing of the animal.

2.  By act of Congress, Title 38, USC/CFR, Chapter 17, Paragraph 1714(3), has been updated to include \\

questions questions - Allan N. Schwartz, Phd - Oct 10th 2011

First, you do not have to recertify your dog.

Second, if your dog woofs, even very low, correct her by saying "no." When she stops, give praise, maybe a treat.








Service dogs for Veterans with PTSD and TBi - leah mcgregor - Jun 26th 2011

Pitbulls for Patriots is looking for veterans interested in teaming with a Pit bull for their service dog


There is also a newly forming project matching veterans with rescue dogs in Columbia, Mo.

I have a small Pit Bull Rescue and from time to time have an appropriate dispositioned dog available.

I also can offer direction, information to get you started on your goal of finding/training your service dog.


Leah McGregor

for p.t.s.d dog - thomas g patton - Jun 1st 2011

i have three doctors stating i need this animal for my mental status, as well a  as  a service dog, they say only way i can get this dog if im totally blind, i very up set about this they do have veterans withese dogs ,can you please help me out on this problem thanks tom patton

hope - - May 27th 2011

hi every one I am 23 and I have PTSD and I have never been in the service but I feel for the men and women that have been and that have PTSD too because I have a hard time dealing with mine and I am trying to get a service dog to help me and it is hard to find one and good luck to every one on here

Mental Health Disorders - Allan N. Schwartz, Phd - May 23rd 2011

We are not an organization that has any connection to service dog training. You would have to do a Google search to find the information you are looking for.

Best of Luck

combat mental health disorders - holly sidwell - May 21st 2011

Need information about highly trained service dogs used to help PTSD and other combat/war zone mental health problems.

or using less trained dogs.

Are you an organisation doing anything like this?

NEED MEDICAL EVIDENCE THIS APPROACH WORKS, can you suggest anyone who can help?

Thanks for reading this.

Holly Sidwell


Organization that provides free service dogs to veterans and support for others - Alicia Miller - May 1st 2011

Operation Wolfhound helps vets get PTSD service dogs.

We have found the best breed for this is the Russian Wolfhound aka borzoi. There are several reasons for this;

1. The breed is quiet (not yappy barking)

2. They are large enough to form a natural barrier preventing incidental contact

3. They are sighthounds so are very oriented at alerting to any movement or approach

4. They live longer than a GSD or Golden and have fewer health problems

5. They typically bond with one person and do not seek out attention from others naturally

6. They are emotionally independent enough not to have attacks WITH their human like many other breeds

7. it is easy to train them to do deep pressure stimulation to stop attacks

8. Although they are a large breed, they are very quiet inside and are not destructive indoors especially when compared to GSD and goldens.

9. People in crowds invariably have a positive reaction to them because of their beauty. This acts as a social lubricant for the veteran and also means that a lot more people smile at and welcome the veteran.

For more information feel free to contact us or explore our admittedly basic website

what breeds of dogs are trained - leon Muilwijk - Mar 17th 2011

Hi my name is Leon, I live in the netherlands and also suffer severe PTSD, I'm trying to figure out if there is a possibility to obtain a psychiatric dog here aswell. Came to this site for information.

What I understand about dog breeds and allergy is that a poodle and a mix of labrador and poodle (labradoodle) is very well trainable and in most cases people with a dog allergy do not have problems with these breeds.

Is professional training necessary? - Nan - Feb 3rd 2011

I suffer from severe PTSD. A retired veteran friend of mine got me a Chihuahua puppy. I am training him myself, with the help of my therapist to assist me as a PTSD assistance dog. So far, he has proven to be a perfect dog for it. He seems uniquely born with the qualities it takes for this service. He has always let me know whenever someone is entering the room, or coming toward me, stays between me and anyone around me. He is never agressive with anyone, and he enjoys just being near me, and touching me. My PTSD has been greatly reduced since obtaining my dog. I would like to get him officially certified so that I can have this comfort away from home. I rarely leave home because of the anxiety. I tend to only go where my dog can accompany me. What can I do? I do not have the money to have him trained at the places you listed. Most of them won't even consider training him because I already own him.

What breeds of dogs are trained - Allan N. Schwartz, PhD - Jan 24th 2011

Hi Lynn,

For those with allergies but who want a dog to be trained as a psychiatric service dogs one of the best I know of is a Havanese. They are small, very smart, loving, and they have hair rather than fur. That means that they do not shed. In fact, I doubt they need to be "trained as psychiatric service dogs because they are so very warm and cuddly. Of course, this is my opinion, but based on what I have observed and what friends have told me.

Dr. Schwartz

what breeds of dogs are trained - Lynn - Jan 24th 2011

i am currently looking into a service dog for PTSD however i live with somebody who is allergic to dogs.  i have heard there are dogs that allergy sufferers may not be bothered by would those kind of dogs be able to be trained as well?

PTSD/depression/mobility dog - holly mcgee - Dec 27th 2010

HI, i live on va disability of 376 @ mo and am waiting for my other claims to go through. I have been dia. with ptsd/depression and a right knee service connected problem requiring a cane and wheelchair. I would like a service dog to assist so that i can have more mobility , maybe leave my house other then VA apts. and socilize again with other humans.  how can i get a dog on such little income?

Developing an Owner/Train Service dog project Mid West - leah mcgregor - Dec 23rd 2010

We are looking for veterans who are interested in training their own service dogs. We will offer training assistance free of charge online and in person if location allows. Located in SE Kansas within 2 hrs of Wichita, Joplin, Tulsa, Kc and Topeka. This is a newly developing project, modeled on a successful 37yr established program in AZ.

Leah McGregor

Saved Animals for Veterans Inc. (SAV) - William Jenkins AKA George - Nov 24th 2010

SAV was organized and incorporated by four Vietnam era veterans with a mission, to fill a void. For the Dept. of Veterans Affairs does not provide dogs to veterans. We provide psychiatric service dogs (PSD) to veterans referred us by the three Veterans Affairs Vet Clinic located in Las Vegas and Henderson, Nevada. We advocate the veteran trained dog for it produces a superior dog for the veteran. It involves the 24/7 interaction and the bond that is built between the dog and the veteran. What the veteran must learn to recongize is the subtle "cue" the dog is expressing to the veteran when his or her demeanor changes. A demeanor changed by anger, flashback, etc.. We have dog trainer available to assist the veteran in recognizing the "cue". 

I will suggest to anyone, that they go online, checkout Psychiatric Service Dog Society ( A great deal of information is provided.

The latest, OFFICIAL INSTRUCTIONS FOR OBTAINING VA BENEFITS FOR YOUR SERVICE DOG for your service dog is considered a prosthetic under VA guidelines. Documentation is the key to being accepted by the VA.

We follow the Psychiatric Service Dog Society (PSDS) guidance and direction.

Individual with disability can by federal law train their own service dog provided the dog performs a task for the individual under ADA guidelines. Also the dog must for no other term, blend in with the public.

The Department of Justice states the above as well as businesses may ask if an animal is a service animal or ask what tasks the animal has been trained to perform, but cannot require special ID cards (certification) for the animal or ask about the person's disability.

At the minimum I suggest a vest w/patch (service dog, service dog in training, working, do not pet, etc.).

Note: If accepted, by the VA your dog will be issued an ID card by the VA. Which can not be disputed - government issued.

Feel free to contact me ( for additional information for I have preformed a vast amount of reasearch proir to going into business. Addressed as CYOA.  

Service Dogs in Barracks - Jean - Nov 13th 2010

I am trying to find out if there are any soldiers out there who are allowed to keep their service dogs in their barrack rooms.

100% service disabled veteran - - Oct 24th 2010

I live in the mid-west and am 100% service disabled. 

As a civilian I was a police k9 handler/trainer and have checked local and state regulations regarding service animals.

We have no formal certification requirment in our state.  As a certified police K9 trainer I am old that I am more than competent to train and self-certify the dog.

I have read the new regulations on service animals and have just one comment.  Many business owners are still under the misconception that service animals "in training" with a certified trainer or the disabled handler DO NOT qualify under the ADA.  A good example is an article back in 2007 regarding Dillard's and Army Staff Sergeant J. Alex Gonzales.

I am shocked that some attorney has not taken the case pro-bono under the ADA, nor the Dept of Justice.

Training A Beagle - Beesley - Oct 17th 2010

My wife has a beagle service dog with her disabilities and the dog does everything from picking up things when she drops them to helping her take her socks off or even bringing her clothes to her. I recently got a 5 month old beagle puppy with the same father as my wifes service dog. The puppy watches the service dog and then copies her. It is the funniest thing to watch but the other crazy thing is that even though he doesn't yet know how to take care of me he reacts to the pain in my foot from where I have nerve damage and my PTSD from two deployments. I am going to train him as a service dog but looking for advice on training as a PTSD dog. At home he has been making it easier for me to keep my anger issues in check by sitting by me and letting me hold him until I calm down. He is quickly learning to walk on my right side which is the side opposite my cane. No he isn't always barking and howling.

Research and Information - Kimber La - Oct 5th 2010

Hi everyone!

This blog has some misinformation it.  I would suggest you all visit the governing authorities at the following websites so you can gather the information you are seeking.

The Department of Justice at

The Americans with Disabilities at

Assistance Dogs International  at

This will tell you what a service dog is, the difference between a service dog and other working dogs, what they must do, how to have one, the rules and the protection.

A cat can not be a service animal, the law recently changed

If you are a military veteran who serviced in a war zone there are several nonprofit organizations who will donate a dog to you through sponsorships.  One nonprofit on the East Coast is

Look in your local area for others.  ADI is a database of the names. You can also google service dog nonprofits in your city, state.  I suggest to you the dog is ADI certified, although it is not required YET.

If you are not a veteran that has served in a war zone,  you will have to fundraise to receive a dog.  Medicare and Medicaid to not provide for dogs.

You will find the VA pilot study program Audit here at this link

Please know your rights and have the information from the governing authority.  It is crucial for anyone with a service animal to follow strict adherence.  Society is becoming more acception--it's a cultural change--as most disabled persons can attest too.

You may contact me with further questions

Service dog needed for child with severe chronic PTSD - Coral - Sep 27th 2010

We ned a service dog for my 14 year old daughter who suffers from severe chronic PTSD with almost constant flashbacks. Although I have a painful diability myself , I stay up with her at night when she has flashbacks bacause she doesn't feel safe with anyone else. I'm there for her all the time and I'm glad I can help her feel safe, but I have a younger child who needs me too. I also need to get back to work or we'll all be out on the street. She has begged me to get her a big dog so she can feel safe. I think a service dog would help her get through the night on her own better than a guard dog. I just can't afford it now since I am not able to work. Are there any organizations that have service dogs for children with PTSD that are low cost or free in NJ?

Any info would be helpful!

diagnose with ptsd - lem - Sep 21st 2010

 i am a veteran of OIF3 and i was diagnose with PTSD i love dogs. as of now am under meds my fiancee wake me if am having bad dream but if she's not around no one will woke me up. How do i go about obtaining a PTSD dog or how much it will cost me especially am from kauai, hawaii..and i dont have a lot of money could you give me an advise on how to obtain one PTSD service dog...




50% Disabled Vet needs German Shepherd puppy for PTSD/Anxiety Disorder - Jeremy - Aug 22nd 2010

I need to find a german shepherd puppy so I can have a companion when I am alone in public, I suffer from PTSD and Anxiety and I have had my colon removed because of a training accident in AIT. I live in the pacifiifc northwest if anyone knows of a low cost puppy for sale. my email is if any one can help.

Thank you so much.


ADA Laws and the New Regulations - pwdsdawareness - Aug 22nd 2010

Actually under the old ADA laws and as well as the New Regulations that would be in effect mostly by 2011. A Service animal does not need to be Certified. However a Service dog must be *individually trained* to perform tasks that will benefit the person with the disability. Comfort and calming are Not Tasks under the Federal Laws. However Psychiatric Dogs are Service Dogs and always were but in the New Regulations it is specifically Written.

Yes it is true that there are some states that actually provide more benefits then the ADA / New Regulations has so it is always good to find out what your state has as well as your Local Laws. Nevertheless if those laws are stricter or conflicting with the ADA then the ADA/New Regulations previels.

As for having your dog with you in the barricks at this time in state it doesn't fall under the ADA but I believe it's under Rehibilitation 504 or 508.

Please know that Service animals under the new regulations are dogs and mini horses. Therefore no other type of animal can be considered a service animal whether trained or not. Hope this clarifies the misinformation. To read the facts go to the site it's in black and white. <g>

Shocked - Allan N. Schwartz, PhD - Jul 27th 2010

The fact is that many of the laws regarding service dogs under the ADA have changed and everyone needs to check the status of things in their state. However, there is another issue:

Your dog needs certification to be considered a service dog. You and your dog need to be trained, pass a test and then you will be certified.

Sorry you had problems.

Dr. Schwartz

Spoke with ADA...Unbelievable! - Sharon - Jul 27th 2010

I was assaulted and stalked by boss. I began to notice mental and emotional issues and thought I was going crazy. Diagnosed with PTSD, panic attacks, depression and mild disassociation and on social security disability. I don't go to stores by myself and still pretty house bound, unless I absolutely have to go out (even though I have Fritz)... my 'working breed' German Shepherd. He goes with me, but not into stores, although goes in Petsmart, etc. He is very well behaved in public (advanced obedience).  Fritz alerts, checks all rooms in the house, 'find mommy', lessens the severity of panic attacks by putting his head on my lap and stays next to me if I get dizzy and lessens the severity just by being there. I get super cold, shivering after the inital hot phase of the panic attack and he warms me up very quickly with his body heat. He has an amazing nose and finds my phone when I can't remember where I put it. (short term memory problems). My husband has a seminar 7 hrs. away in another state next week.  I called the ADA to clarify info on Service Dogs just to be sure we would not have any problems by taking him. From all I read online, he qualified. Although diagonsed by a State certified psycologist (SSD) since I could not work and having the problems I have, Fritz did not qualify. I was shocked. These laws need changed to recognize all mental disabilities, not just autism. She said he sounds like an emotional support animal, which does not qualify as a service dog under the ADA. She asked   what tasks he performs for me. I told this woman a couple things and finding the phone was one of them. She said, 'He has to perform a 'task' that you can not do for yourself' She continued on to say, lots of people lose their phone. So now the delemma...Do we take Fritz with us to the hotel in NJ or do I stay home and suffer with profound problems if I were to be alone at night, etc? If I did not have Fritz to stay with me during the day when husband is at work, my mental issues would have increased to a point of no return. I need Fritz. Husband already told hotel we will be bring our service dog. Please give me some advice. Thank you.          

I have really Bad PTSD - Jacqueline - Jul 19th 2010

Hello my name is Jacqueline and I am 23 years old i have been deployed to Afganastain and I have very bad PTSD... I really need some help I have a Dog named Dodge he is my best friend in the whole wide world and i love him but when I am apart from him I am not my self.. I have sever Depression, Axaity and I have really bad dreams I hate going places by my self... I was raped by and nother military member while I was deployed.. now i just can't think right... My dog is a 5years old black lab mixed with black and tan coon hound.. he is my best friend and i would love to get him certifyed so he can be by my side and all time I feel so safe when he is with me... can someone please help me out I would really like to get him certiyfed please... Thanks so much my e-mail is

Certification for a cat. - Sarah - Jul 13th 2010

I'm an 18 yearold who suffers from PTSD and Severe Deppresion. My cat who I've had for 5 years now is my best "medicine". But I'm going off to college and I can't bring him along. Without him I become very depressed and I don't care aobut anything. My college said that they might let me bring him if I can get him certified, but I can't find any way of doing so. If you know of anyway that I can please let me know.

PTSD Service Dog... ??? - - Jul 11th 2010

I was wondering where I would get a PTSD Service Dog? I am told that I have Sever PTSD, Server Reactive Stress / Anxiety and Sever Depression... I am a victim of a home invadiation, kidnapping, attempted murder and rape case... I have not left my home in alost 2 years... My doctors have written me letters saying that a service dog would benifit me... BUT NO ONE knows where I should go or what the next step is... If anyone has guidance please let me know.... THANK YOU...

HELP IN MICHIGAN - Dick L. Smith - Jul 8th 2010

We have a Golden Retriever She is 2 years old. She is a certified Therapy dog for a Vietnam PTSD 100% PERMANANT AND TOLAL. We would like her to be a Certified Service Dod. Please advise on how to do this.

Dick & Vicky Smith and Maggie Liberty Smith AKC

Service Dog for Disabled Fireman - - Jun 7th 2010

You may want to check out the Foundation for Service Dog Support in AZ. 

"The FSDS provides fully trained and certified service dogs at low to no cost for those who have served their communities. Examples of some types of service that would qualify under our program include but are not limited to:

  • Police
  • Fire
  • EMS
  • Military
  • Community Volunteer
  • Ministry
  • Public School Teachers"

9-11 Disabled Fireman - - Jun 6th 2010

Doc, I am in need of a dog like this. I have PTSD and have had little result in therapy or with meds. I was retired with total disability from the Fire Dept. about a year after my service at the Pentagon on 9-11. Since then I have had virtually no quality of life. I have very strong avoidance behaviors and rarely have anything to do with people, places or things that may trigger flashbacks or intrusive memories. I'm tired of being so isolated and alone and I think one of these dogs would help me greatly. What do you think? I have heard a lot about these dogs being made available to military vets but nothing about availability for public safety vets. Do you know where I should look? Thank you for your reply and for being there for us.

Service Cat - Bobbi - Jun 5th 2010

I am a veteran but my PTSD came a few years after I was discharged.  I've lost a lot of family and friends in the past few years & every death made me more & more anxious and brought back my PTSD symptoms. 

I live alone in a small apartment.  Some friends gave me their huge Maine Coon cat because he's kind of high maintenance and their busy schedule didn't give them enough time to car for the cat. 

We bonded instantly.  I didn't expect him to be a service animal but he quickly became one when I started having nightmares.  He's right there to soothe me when I wake up, and stays within reach when I need him to be there.  If I'm up and around and something makes me cry, he hops up and tries to catch my tears with his humongous paw, which always makes me laugh.

In my state (Oregon) almost any animal can be designated a service animal.  My VA NP wrote a short note which I gave to my landlord who was not happy because he said "We don't allow pets".  I told him, "he's NOT a pet".   So we're happy together and I didn't have to pay a pet fee.   I wish he didn't hate riding in the car so much...I'd take him with me everywhere I went, if I could.

I train PTSD dogs in Texas - CJ - May 31st 2010

I have been training dogs for over 30 years.  I train obedience dogs, service dogs, therapy dogs, and many other kinds of training that are too numerous to mention.  I am in the process of setting up a PTSD program at the VA in Amarillo, but also train dogs for others as well.  I have trained and placed service and therapy dogs all over the US.  I DO NOT charge huge amounts for my talents and would entertain any request to help out.  This is an absolutely incredible project that needs to be funded nationally for the benefit of everybody.  But, like others, I don't see that happening soon.  Please feel free to email me at

How to help support this program - Paul Claroni - May 16th 2010

    Do you provide a form letter or suggestions on how to effectively contact our political representatives in order to recruit their support to help fund this worthwhile service.

     I am a memeber of our local Marine Corps League Detachment. We can be very effective and influential in contacting our Senators and Congressmen,now especially with an election coming up, with a well coordinated, worded letter extolling the benefits this program can provide.

    I am sure the politicians will be ineterested in light of the VA's poor record in dealing with the worsening PTSD problem!         Thank you

i want to know more - Tony - May 14th 2010

I asked my NP at the VA about this type of service, she was aware of it only cause I live in MN and my senitor was the one who pushed this service.  I want to be considered for the trial, I have a ptsd disorder and I know half the dogs are commited to that.  please write me back.  i am 100%  disabled with a mental disorder but I really think i can and want to work.

Special Training NOT a requirement - tina - May 12th 2010

I have done much research on SD's and their "required" training.  The primary thing is that the dog (or other animal) be able to provide the neccessary service for the "handler".  I have two service dogs at my house that have been self-trained and given doctors authorization.  One of them is for my personnal assistance, the other is for my daughter's Psychiatric issues.  (She is 18 and still attending High School and her dog goes with her every day.)  I also have a good friend with two Psych SD's that go to college with her (she alternates them) that she self-trained and got doctor's authorization for.

Veterans Service Dog Patch / ID Badge - Liz - Mar 21st 2010

I thought you would enjoy seeing these;

Thank You, for all you do.

vet with ptsd.... - susan - Feb 24th 2010

i just read your article, i have been doing research on service dogs.   my sister recommeded that i should see into getting one.   i got hurt during basic training and is now in a wheel chair and uses a cain.   my big problem is going out in public being around alot of people.  i start to stress out big time.  reading this gives me hope that maybe i can get out in crowds again or maybe get in an elevator again.  thank you for the article.  susan

Is This Allowed? - Allan N. Schwartz, PhD - Jan 25th 2010

Hi Lydia,

You need to have your dog properly trained and certified before it can be considered a service dog. Then, you have to be trained with the dog after it is trained. One place you can look into is: East Coast Assistance Dogs and they can be found at:

They will provide you with information that you and your parents will need and you will find a phone number on the web site.

However, there is very little chance that you will be allowed to bring the dog to school with you even after it and you are trained and certified.

Dr. Schwartz

Is this allowed??? - Lydia - Jan 25th 2010


I'm a 15 yr old girl who was recently diagnosed with CPTSD (Chronic Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) I recently got a 3 month old Golden Retriever. I was told by a friend that I can use him as a Service dog. Do I have to go somewhere to get him trained or can I just use him as my service dog. When ever I am around him, I am much calmer, and he always looks out for me already :)

But do I need some sort of verification for him to be allowed into stores or planes or trains? My friend has a PTSD dog and she doesn't use any kind of verification. Can I also do that or what? Please help me! Thanks

my story - Manuel P. Serrano - Dec 26th 2009

Hello, I'm Vietnam vintage, 100% , Lost my dog two years ago, a beautiful Border Collie. I would like to have a dog that could work as a reading dog for children and , perhaps, with other vets at Long Beach.

I was a Corpsman, still am. I take care became a teacher with inner city kids. I'm 64, but I want a friend who who can do the things my

border Collie did. His name was Doc. I'm retired now, 4 and 1/2 yrs. I am part of the 6th District Memorial team.

I almost had a a Labradoodle, part Lab, part poodle. The deal fell through.

Whether I can train or care for a dog, I would be honored.


Manuel Serrano

Donatea puppy for training - Kathleen Myers - Dec 23rd 2009

I would like to donate a Brittany puppy for taining to help a soldier. This breed has an excellent nose& needs a job. Please help me help a young soldier.

Thank You, Kathleen Myers 

Service Dog Indeed - Milan - Dec 4th 2009

I just read your article on service dogs and it is very

interesting to me. I have seen other people with service

dogs and I'am glad that these animals are avialble for

the disabled.

scholarships - Allan N. Schwartz, PhD - Dec 2nd 2009

Hi Steven,

Because most people cannot afford to pay the full price of a trained and certified service dog, most organizations have scholarships. I suggest you contact the following organization. They train service dogs and the person adopting the dog and usually have excellent scholarships available. You can find them at this URL:

Go to the web site, get their phone number and call them. I cannot guarantee that they can help but, at worst, they can point you to another organization. You can use my name if you think it might help.

The Director of the organization is Lou Picard (female).

Dr. Schwartz

I need help - Steven - Dec 2nd 2009

I need help find a pstd dog for my better half we are both on fixed incomes and can bearly make it month to month.  His docotor haad suggest aa service we have search the internet in the boston area but onlt found nead but they want u to raise 10,000 dollars we have no way to do that can someone please help us...


Thank you,



the cost - ric - Nov 9th 2009


the cost of a service dog?? most places will sell a service dog for about $10,000,  one could and can get a dog, a young one from the pound... then train it yourself?, could be done...

its called owner trained or PSDit.

I have had mine for just over 1 year, we have been together 24/7..... I am told it takes 2 years to train a SD, and i would say that is about right ... I have a half trained PSDit.... he gets me up in the morning, brings me my socks, (we are still working at the shoes) makes me take him for a walk.... we have been everywhere together... 8th & I Marine sunset paride in DC, The VA hospital, resturants, bars, stores.....

I get asked all the time, its that a service dog?? I say yes, he is training to be a compaion for vet returning from war.then I get, aren't your going to feel bad whan you have to give him up? I say "not reality, this one is going to be mine...."

If you feel you could or would bennifit from having a SD, then I recomend you reseurching the internet for information on how you can do owner trained....

it doesn't have to cost you anything.... ok ok bills and dog food, treats, leash... bedding... shampoo, fea powder....

I hope one day the VA will pick up the cost, but I not waiting around for Obama....

question? ask



cost - - Oct 12th 2009

how much does it cost to get one?

Other SD Vet dog placement - Aimee - Sep 28th 2009

Robert~ Do a search for VetDogs as well as Paws4Vets.  They place dogs for Veterans of any era.  Also, are you in Voc Rehab?  If not, get in it.  If you are approved for voc rehab and are placed in their Independent Living Program, if you do your homework (as in get a psychiatrist to write a script for the dog for you) then Voc Rehab may purchase and already trained service dog for you.  I have PTSD as well, though I am an OEF and OIF Vet so I was able to get one of the Puppies Behind Bars dogs.  Please don't give up on the dog!

owner trained PSD - richard odonnell - Aug 18th 2009

I am a 100% with PTSD from the Viet Nam war.

I have had dogs for the past 25 years...this last one a weimaraner rescue from NC iwas two when we got together.

we have been working together for 8 months , with great seccess.  First thing anyone needs to do is become a avcate for PSD or a student of SD. only knowing the law and what is required will you be able to train your own dog.  as others have said there is no law stateing a dog must be certifide as a SD... there are rules to how they must act in public... can't eat food, bark, be a dog while working as a SD... I found it is much easier to have the dog regasterd with some kind of ID,  its not required, but it smooths the way... I have cards stating the law and what can and can not be asked and things that can get you thrown out of a place...

we have been to every resturant in town, at first was reported to the health dept, but I went to them myself with my cards and ID and got that put to rest, it is an educating operturnity, and we have to educat the public... not to do so leave a problem for another day...

I also have my dog on a training collar (think shock collar) the new aids have a vibrate mode and all I have to do is correct my dog with a quick vibrate and he is back on track.  he wears this all the time, and I where my control device around my neck and use it offen.

I find it easier to train the dog than it is to train the publice. when someone trys to ped or distract my dog from working, i viberate hime and he stays focused, he stays still when he gets pet and doesn't respond to the tempation., this works well when we walk past a unruly dog, he wants to interact, but a quick vibrate and he totely is back on task.

one area he need more work is while having dinner , with my SD under the table, he gets antsy and wants to get up and move around, another quick viberat and he is back on task... dogs shold be able to lay or sit in the down for at least 45 min, whele one has dinner, it just takes time, and a quick vibrate and he is back on task, without me having to talk, or correct him in any way the public might see. he looks fully trained... only we know he is still in training..

my SD gets me up every morning at 0700, gets me out of the house for a 2 mile fast walk, then goes with me to the gym and coffee after. then anywhere i have to go, today it was the VA hospital, which I have been told would not allow dogs inthe hospital.... going in I was stoped athe door and ask it he was a service dod, I pulled out my ID card and show them and GAVE them one of the cards with the law and rules on it and told them they could keep it for refernce. and we were on our way to have my teeath cleaned and my hearing aids check without any problem...

I am will to answer any questions or work with anyone wanting to do the same... if anyone want to e-mail us.

ric and smo-kee

PTSD and Dogs - Allan N. Schwartz, PhD - Aug 9th 2009


I regret having to say that, at this time, I do not know of any other places for you to get a service dogs for PTSD. However, I invite our readers to share information if they do know of other places, organizations or who may have other ideas.

In addition to a dog, I hope that you are getting support services for your PTSD from the VA. If not, I think you should press them for added psychiatric services to help you with this thing.

Good Luck

Puppybehindbars is not for all PTSD suffers - Robert - Aug 9th 2009

I am a suffer of Desert Storm and still have flashbacks, I sleep an average of 4 hours a night (when I sleep) jump and noises and avoid going in public. I had a dog that was amy soother (though not trained as a service dog). He passed away lately. I contacted Puppy behind bars that informed me that their program is for the veterans of the current wars and being a Desert Storm Vet, I was not qualified for a sevice dog through their program. Amy suggestions where I can get a service dog. I tried some of the other places metioned in this article and am awaiting a reply from one, the others gave the same answer. It appears being a 100% Comp and Pension Vet does not grant you a service animal when your in need of one. Until then, I feel better remaining at home.

Training Assistance Dogs - Allan N. Schwartz, PhD - May 4th 2009

An excellent place to have both you and your dog properly trained is East Coast Assistance Dogs. You can find them at the following url: In addition, if they are not near you they can advise you about other excellent training facilities.Dr. Schwartz

Ptsd Dogs - John Watson - May 3rd 2009

I also suffer from severe PTSD and have flashbacks at least three or four times in a two week period. I havew a half aussieand half Siberian huskie and would like to know how to get her trained to be a service dog for me.

question and help needed - Tracey - Apr 10th 2009

Great article and i have a few questions and seeking help.. I have been depressed due to a different disabilty and the waiting list for service dogs were wayy too long and seemed to cost a fortune.. I then suffered from depression then sort of anxiety and nightmares sleepign issues and everything the same as post traumatic stress disorder due to being in an abusive relationship a long time ago... anyways since i have these disorders and trying to find different ways to cope with what my original disablity which i will not put in here which leagally gives me a disablity .. i therefore got tired of waiting for a service dog and adopted a dog from the humane society.. i found puppy classes and started trainign my dog.. he is great.. i am wondering since the ADA law is bigger than state laws.. cant i just continue training my puppy ... get h im to pass caninine citizen classes and then hopefully try to find a place which can maybe help me teach my dog some other things related to my disability.. i need help and guidance asap if anyone can help me out.. JOanna i read your post and i would love to also be a peer support person too ..  and willing to volunteer .. i also need to know if there is a specific law that applies to training my own dog and having rights to train him by taking him on the bus or in public so he can be trained properly.. or do i need a specific piece of paper ?

i have tried to look everywhere for a trainer that lives around here that will help me train my dog to just a few specific tasks that i need but most want u to adopt THEIR dog... my dog is already a great dog and I know he can be trained to do certain tasks.. for i have trained him to do many other things already..

 please any input will help .. I also need to make sure its legal before taking my own dog out in public while trainign him myself.. since the service places use puppy raisers and they go in public to practice, shouldnt I be allowed to ?  and then if so then Shouldnt work allow me to start bringing my dog to work so he can start getting used to that ? if anyone knows of trainers in the area willing to help me out let me know

 I live in south western PA.. the programs I found will not consider helpign me train my own dog.

 as of today april 09 my dog will be one year old

thank you


PTSD and psychiatric service dogs and veterans - joann Schaffer - Mar 18th 2009

I am Jo Hanna Schaffer and I have a Psychiatric service dog.  I was fortunate to be able to rescue Cody from the Boston Humane Society.  He has been a life saver and the things that he does to make my life at 70 better and more berable is wonderful.  Cody is now 5 years old and we get out each day and go to the senior center.  He ( Cody) made it possible for me to move to an area where I could live on my limited income.  I now am a Certified Peer Specaliast and would be glad to assist any one  in obtaning a dog to train for Psychiatric service.

 jo Hanna Schaffer

Psych & mobility dogs- New Mexico - - Mar 8th 2009

If you are looking for a service dog to help with psychiatric  (e.g., PTSD) and/or mobility issues, you might check out our website at Laughing Eyes Kennels is a 501c3 nonprofit in New Mexico that breeds and trains golden and labrador retrievers specifically for psychiatric and mobility service. For large individuals, such as many veterans, LEK trains large (tall) labradors that can assist in balance with a harness as well as psychiatric service.

federal law - - Jan 4th 2009
If it is a federal law the states, cities or whomever must comply with the laws under the Doctrine of Supremecy better known as the supremecy clause. All states when they agreed to become a state in this country has in their constitutions the agreement to comply with the supreme law of the land, the United States Constitution and all federal laws and regulations. You sue them without money but if you are suing states and cities they will claim sovereignty and immunity. There are other ways like sending a certified letter to the state disabilities commission or the governor asking them to comply with the Duty to faithfully execute thier oath of office to the constitution , laws and regulations of this country.

clarification - battlebuddiemom - Dec 1st 2008

I think that there needs to be some clarification on this subject.  There is federal law (which applies to all the states) and the gaps in federal law are left up to the states to fill.  I live in Montana and basically the law here says that a Service Dog in training is granted the same rights and privilages as a regular Service Dog.  Now, to just leave the 'in training' issue aside, let's assume we are talking about fully trained service dogs.  A service animal is defined as any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability.  So, you have to be a disabled person.  The dog has to be individually trained. And it has to be able to perform a task for you that you cannot do yourself, such as bring you a phone in the middle of a panic attack, or wake you up in the morning, or just be able to calm you down from a panic attack (I have panic attacks, that's why I know... and if you would like a longer list of tasks, search Psychiatric Service Dog tasks, and you can find a couple of lists).  If the dog is just there for emotional support, it is NOT a service dog.  If it just helps other people with their therapy, it is NOT a service dog.  So, make sure you understand the difference between Service Dogs and Emotional Support (which are granted some rights in housing issues) or Therapy Dogs.  Once you have determined that your dog is a ligitimate Service Dog under the ADA (Americans with Disabilites Act) then don't let anyone take that away from you.  The dog does NOT have to be trained professionally, you can train it yourself.  The dog does NOT have to be certified or registered.  My dog is 'registered' by the United States Service Dog Registry.  It was free, and I did it all on-line in about 10 minutes.  I had a gal locally offer to 'certify' my dog for $1,000.00.  I told her thanks, but no thanks.  I asked her by what authority she could certify my dog, and she just shrugged her shoulders.  Look, anyone can certify your dog.  Anyone can register your dog.  It doesn't make any difference in the eyes of the ADA.  No one can require you to do either.  Please, PLEASE, PLEASE do not spend good money to get your dogs certified!!!  In my opinion anyone who understands the law, and knows that it isn't needed, and understands the struggles that we disabled people go through ought to be ashamed to even offer to take someone's hard earned money to 'certify' their dogs.  After thinking about it, I decided to start my own little business and offer to certify dogs for free.  If anyone wants to bring their dog to me, we will go out for a few hours and run through some general service dog ettiquite.  I'll give you a very nice certificate complete with a gold embossed paw print.  I'll give you two laminated access cards, also with gold paw prints and complete with your dog's picture on it.  The reason I am saying this is because I am trying to point out that ANYONE can certify a dog as a service dog.  There are no guidelines or requirements that have to be met.  There are places on line that if you give them a credit card number they will send you a certificate in the mail.  It's not worth the paper it's printed on.  I'm not saying that getting access into the work place is going to be easy.  It took me 1 1/2 years, and I'm still fighting.  But insofar as being out and about, if you know the law, then stand up for yourself.  Don't let yourself be pushed out, because then they will think that the next Service Dog team that comes in can be made to leave too.  We need to stick together.  Don't give them more than they are granted by law, and stand up for your rights.  Eventually we will have earned the acceptance we deserve!  =)

psych Service Dogs - - Dec 1st 2008

After doing some research I have learned that there are NO special qualifications, training or certifications required for a dog to be a psych service dog. Obviously a well-trained dog is the ultimate goal. See

There is also a listserve at the site for vets with service dogs.

in maine w ptsd and state refusal svc dog - me - Oct 26th 2008

surprised and grateful to find this site  

for a year I've had free legal aid lawyers trying to get maine to recognize my svc dog....then I switched to disability rights of maine -- nothing is happening...meaning, I get a tag so, don't have to explain to people.  But I rarely go new places and avoid matter by leaving him outside or in car when I have to go to stores.  

Last week two incidents exacerbarated my ptsd.  I left neighborhood deli due to a customer going off verbally on me re his not having tag.  Then got escorted out of a store by a manager who would not even look at paper work I always carry.  Last week just made me go back into recluse mode.  So tired of this.  Don't have money for good lawyer.   

My Dad was a pow and I grew up around ptsd symptoms.  I've had to learn about my own ptsd and am getting help.  But too tired of trying to explain svc dog that lawyers assure me is legal and this state's discrimination against service dogs for people like me and vets who are so helped by a service dog.  at a loss of what to do........At times so frustrated just want to reveal it in newspaper and go public but that losing my privacy will likely increase my personal struggles.  The legal system for a nonrich person has failed me!!!....Don't know what I can do.  It's a crime and, speaking for myself, has caused much pain.  Any suggestions would be curious to hear.  Anyway, that's how it is in Maine.

hope this helps - - Oct 1st 2008

i would try this website: hope it helps.

refusal of city to allow ptsd svc dog - erin - Sep 26th 2008

I feel sorry people are so unaware of ptsd and how service dogs help, especially with veterans coming back with ptsd. 

I finally had to go on disability for ptsd and having a dog is helping me become healthier.  A BIG PROBLEM IS MY CITY AND STATE refuses to recognize federal law and do not allow my dog in city buildings.  Maine is refusing any certification for service dogs for people with mental disabilities until they pass a new law with more restrictions!!!!   A free legal aid law firm didn't help.  Now disability rights of the state is taking case.  It's sad but I cope and don't go many places right now anyway.  Sometimes not being able to take my dog makes me angry and I wish I had money to sue this state for breaking federal law and what it's put me (and other people) through....I believe my Dad, a pow, had it too so, I grew up with coping with another's ptsd.

PTSD vet gets help from service dog - - Aug 28th 2008

here is a video of ptsd vet gets help from service dogs

Certification - Angie - Aug 24th 2008

I am a veteran, with PTSD, and it's been 14 years since I left the military. It became activated again, with the Iraq War, and the exposure of military interrogators. I was one. It brought back so many nightmares, guilt, anger, shame, and feelings about killing people, including myself and anyone who has ever hurt me.

I found a site online that "Certifies" Service Dogs. Make sure you're not saying it's a therapy dog. They go into hospitals and nursing homes etc. and don't have the same rights as Service Dogs.

I had my doctor write a letter than I would benefit from an SD due to exacerbation of my "illnesses" and my job said, "okay" but they wanted certification. I found out that all that's required is this: you must be a person with a disability (documented), and must mark the dog so people can see that it's a service dog from 10 feet away, hence the little vests they wear with the patches.

The ADS doesn't "REQUIRE" that you "certify" but the State of MN asks for this, and so did my job. So, I voluntarily did, by finding a site online by searching for "Service Dog Certification" and your doctor signs it as does your veterinarian. It cost me about $50. Sucks because it's not needed according to Federal ADA law, which overrides any state law. But, I've been told this:

1. Voluntarily Certify, 2. Know that People can indeed ask "What type of Service does your dog provide?" and that's it. 3. They cannot refuse you public accodmodations and they can't charge you more at a hotel for having the dog. Technically, my job should pay for some of this as a reasonable accomodation sinc eI already had the dog, and I trained him, but I'm just glad they are letting me have him.

If you are still in the service, or in a wounded warriors program, I would print out some Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) info and discuss with a doctor (civilian or otherwise) and possibly a psychologist. They can write letters that will help.

 Good luck -- your service dog should not be away from you and it sounds like you need him. I wish the military would not have just diagnosed me with PTSD, but done something about it. I didn't know they had a way to treat it. Try EMDR too--ask (Eye Movement Desensitization R...) and it's a type of therapy. It inlocks the things you've been through, and you do sort of reexperience things, but then it helps to minimize the impact on your life.
Best, Angie

PTSD dogs, - Mike - Aug 20th 2008

I have had 4 Doberman Pinschers, this last one I was told about making her into a service dog,, she is terrific, I am a 100% disabled veteran SC with PTSD, and she is more than I could ask for. Dobe's are the best for a Nam vet with PTSD because they are always on the alert, without being "mean" my Porsche will pull me away from something she does not trust, she stands between me and someone talking to me that she does not know, she is not interested in meeting anyone unless told to "meet" them..

She is a very welcomed gal at the Tampa, Fl. VA hospital in Tampa, and being she is self trained, anyone can ask people in the hospital "Who was that guy!!"  with the Dobie... 

Mike & Porsche SD




Good Luck!!!



find a PTSD service dog in New Jersey - gary - Jul 31st 2008


I am trying to find a accredited, recognized company that trains and provides service dogs here in New Jersey...

I am a vetnam vet 1966 with 70% PTDS...I am in the Indepndent Living Program with the VA...and this type of dog could help me become more

independent and not so sad...anyone that can send me in the right direction to find this special type of dog...would mean alot to me. 

Help on getting a dog certified - Lorena Rood - Jun 16th 2008


My name is Lorena Rood.  I have resently returned from Iraq.  I am part of a great program right now.  The Wounded Warrior Program help sailors who have been injured get the medical treatment they need before returning home.  As an animal lover, while here, I have been volunteering at the Humane Society.  I found a great dog there and adopted her.  As I was reading your article, I thought all the thing your dogs are doing, she already does.  I have moderate to severe PTSD.  This dog, Stella, is a mixed breed.  She makes me be out of my room and she gets upset when every night we have to part.  I have a friend taking care of her at night because I can not have her in my barracks room. Can you please give me some help in ideas on how to get her certified so I can keep her with me at all times?  I feel so much calmer when she is with me and no so angry at the world.  Thanks for any information you can give me.

Lorena Rood 

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