A new study has found scientific evidence of the benefits of service animals for veterans with PTSD.
The study is the second to come out a partnership among Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine, K9s For Warriors and the National Institutes of Health.
“It’s not just a feel-good story,” said Rory Diamond, K9s For Warriors CEO. “This is science.”
The study analyzed cortisol levels in veterans with and without service dogs.
“When you wake up in the morning and you don’t have PTSD, you have a slow morning cortisol rise,” Diamond said. “Our warriors who have PTSD flatline.”
But Diamond said the study showed veterans with service dogs for at least six months have a near-normal morning cortisol rise.
“This is the first proof ever in the history of mankind that a service dog can change someone with PTSD’s brain,” Diamond said.
Diamond said they plan to take the results to the Department of Veterans Affairs in Washington, DC.
“With this study, we can go to the VA and force them to pay for service dogs because we can prove that they work, without question,” Diamond said.
James Rutland knows how PTSD can take control of a person’s life. He served in the Army for 12 years and was unable to do even simple errands when he returned home.
“I always felt like every situation I was in was more unsafe than the last,” Rutland said.
While Rutland recognized that he needed help, none of the treatments he received seemed to work.
“Take this pill you’ll get this result, oh and take this one for the side effects of that one, and take this one for the side effects of that one that you took for the side effects of the other one,” Rutland said of the medications he was prescribed. “I just ... I didn’t want to live by the bottle. I was already living by another bottle on top of that.”
It turns out that the best medication didn’t come in a bottle; it came on a leash.
Rutland found K9s For Warriors through Jeannie Blaylock. He now helps train other warriors how to work with their service dogs and credits his own dog with turning his life around.
“I can look and say all these things that have happened to me have ruined my life, or I can say they’ve made me who I am today,” Rutland said. “And that’s allowed me to help other people. And that’s just what I choose to do.”