2015 Issues   /   September 2015

Service Dog Becomes Veteran’s ‘Support System’

USM By U.S. Medicine
September 4, 2015

Rules Clarified on Animals on VA Property

service-dogs

When Veteran Kenny Bass was at the Dayton VA, receiving medical attention for a kidney stone, Atlas was there by his side.

The VA has revised its regulation regarding the presence of animals on VA property to ensure its practices remain consistent with federal law. Under the revised regulation, only dogs that are individually trained to perform work or tasks on behalf of an individual with a disability will be considered service animals.  Other animals will not be permitted in VA facilities, unless expressly allowed as an exception under the regulation for activities such as animal-assisted therapy or for other reasons such as law enforcement purposes.

In these photos, Kenny Bass, an infantry Marine injured by an IED, is shown with his trained service dog Atlas.

“Atlas became my support system,” Bass said, explaining how the dog helps him with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms. “He could tell when I was having nightmares. He’d jump on the bed, lick my face and wake me up. A few weeks after I got him I was sitting alone in my garage, as usual. He came over and dropped his ball in my lap. Five minutes later I was out in the backyard with him, in the sunshine, throwing the ball for him.”

Grateful for what Atlas did for him, Bass helped found The Battle Buddy Foundation, a non-profit that trains service dogs for veterans struggling with PTSD.


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