Service Animal Requirements in VA Hospitals

UNDER THE ADA, A SERVICE DOG IS DEFINED AS A DOG THAT HAS BEEN INDIVIDUALLY TRAINED TO DO WORK OR PERFORM TASKS FOR AN INDIVIDUAL WITH A DISABILITY. THE TASK(S) PERFORMED BY THE DOG MUST BE DIRECTLY RELATED TO THE VETERAN’S DISABILITY.

PROMOTION OF FUNCTIONAL ABILITY AND INDEPENDENCE
Assistance Dogs complete essential tasks so a person with a disability can return to the community, increase independence and improve their quality of life

People can live alone and improve and maintain functional ability

Dog provides help with Activities of Daily Living (ADL’s) such as shopping tasks, fine motor tasks. This leads to less wear and tear on the body

Decrease the amount of family and hired caregiver hours required by providing concrete physical assistant

Bringing peace of mind to loved ones of person with disability

Increased sense of security. Retrieve phone or caregiver. Get help, pull cords

PSYCHOSOCIAL BARRIERS REDUCED
Promote improved social interactions

Promote increased participation in community-based activities.

A person with disability seems more approachable to others

Allows the person with disabilities to gain confidence in community reintegration situations

Decrease loneliness and depression, the dog becomes someone to interact with, a companion, part of the family. Creates a purpose.

A calming effect; allows the person with disabilities to focus on another not themselves

Care of the dog decreases stress and anxiety. It provides a sense of responsibility and a daily routine

PHYSICAL BARRIERS REDUCED
Provides physiologic benefits such as lowering blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides, and decreased heart rate

Enhanced levels of dopamine and endorphins, decreased levels of stress hormone cortisol

The physical warmth and compression of the dog laying on/near you reduces perceived pain levels

Motivates to adopt long term behavior changes that lead to weight loss and positive health outcomes

People with disabilities exercise more by taking dogs for a walk, fetch, and grooming activities.

*Information provided by Paws with a Cause: https://www.pawswithacause.org/

*For more information please visit K9 for Warriors, a nonprofit organization devoted to placing service dogs with disabled veterans: https://www.k9sforwarriors.org/

UNDER VA HOSPITAL MANDATE:
VA policy on service dogs
Published 08/27/2015 10:05 AM | Updated 08/27/2015 10:07 AM
What is VA’s policy regarding service dogs?
The Department of Veterans Affairsis revising its regulation regarding the presence of animals on VA property.
Previous VA regulation authorized the presence of seeing-eye dogs on VA property and other animals at the discretion of a VA facility head. The updated regulation will ensure VA practices remain consistent with applicable federal law. It will also assist those entering and working at VA facilities in developing a clear and consistent understanding of the criteria governing facility access for service animals.
Under the updated regulation, service dogs are allowed on VA owned or leased property. Only dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability are considered service animals. There are no restrictions on the breeds of dogs that may be considered service animals.
All other animals will not be permitted in VA facilities, unless expressly allowed as an exception under regulations for activities such as animal-assisted therapy or for other reasons such as law enforcement purposes.

Emotional support animals are not considered service animals under these regulations.

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