PTSD

25 more service dogs will help veterans in Canada with PTSD

Organization hopes national standard for training will be released this fall

Medric Cousineau speaks at a news conference Tuesday at the Halifax Central Library.   Yuqian Li

Wounded Warriors Canada has been given $300,000 for 25 new service dogs, but there’s still a big demand for these trained animals.

On Tuesday during an announcement of the new funds, Philip C. Ralph, national program director of Wounded Warriors Canada, said donations were given from across the country. 

Wounded Warriors Canada is an organization to support ill and injured Canadian Armed Forces members, veterans, first responders and their families. Since the program started in 2012, 100 service dogs have been paired with their new owners.

Ralph suspects more people suffering from PTSD want a service dog, but have not “come out of their basement to ask.”

“The only thing I can say is that I receive four to five requests minimum every week from across the country,” Ralph said, noting those are just the requests to his organization.

A service dog in training waits for directions from its owner.   Yuqian Li

He calls on all Canadians to support the program.

“It means everyone in this room, and all Canadians, have a specific role to play when it comes to taking care of the health of injured veterans, first responders and families in this country,” said Ralph in a speech at the Halifax Central Library. “Nobody can do it alone.”

Ralph explained there’s a long turnaround time for service dogs. He said it takes two years to train a dog, then 18 months to see if the dog is a good match for the recipient.

A veteran shows how he gets his dog to sit down.   Yuqian Li

Wounded Warriors Canada is pushing for a national standard to ensure the level of training for service dogs is the same throughout the country. Ralph said Veterans Affairs Canada has provided $400,000 over the last two years to help develop a national standard.

“Hopefully, we can have that in late fall,” said Ralph.

There are five dog training partners across Canada: two in the Atlantic provinces, one in Quebec, one in Ontario and one in British Columbia. Wounded Warriors is working on setting up partnerships in Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Medric Cousineau talks with a family member after the announcement.   Yuqian Li

Paws Fur Thought in Nova Scotia is one of the Atlantic partners. Co-founder Medric Cousineau, who was there for Tuesday’s announcement, said he’s seen how beneficial service dogs are.

“I come around in this room and I see lots of dogs; I see families are being reunited, and I see families that have life,” said Cousineau.

People with service dogs pose for a group photo after the news conference.   Yuqian Li