OUR VIEW: Sniffing out new therapies

There’s a place in the strategies to help Canada’s veterans and emergency response professionals for assistance from those with wet noses.

There’s a place in the strategies to help Canada’s veterans and emergency response professionals for assistance from those with wet noses.

The struggles of Tania McClelland, as detailed in today’s News Review (see page five) through the impact of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) demonstrate how service animals are not simply confined to those with visual or hearing impairment.

Animals, such as dogs, are being used in a variety of roles — from comfort animals in hospital settings to avalanche or earthquake rescue dogs. In a recent example, a couple from Quesnel, B.C. took their horses on a nation-wide trek, visiting veterans and riding with them.  Ride organizer Paul Nichols is a veteran himself and found comfort for his PTSD through working with horses.

There are plenty of other documented cases of veterans or emergency personnel who turn to animals of various kinds to help them recover, stabilize and have more normal lives.

Yet, it remains difficult for some to access service animals in those roles. That is partly due to the new nature of the service — there are just not enough animals trained to provide comfort to people suffering the effects of PTSD. And because it’s reasonably new, service agencies to which people turn for help, are not yet up to speed. It takes resources and studies to make new treatment methods available — despite anecdotal evidence that would appear to show that animals, once trained, are capable of helping prevent episodes of stress or panic.

While all of that happens, people wait for help.

It’s organizations that train the animals — and the efforts of individuals who know the benefits and want to help make things better for our veterans and first responders — that will fill the void as best they can. Thankfully, they are there.

Hopefully, they will lead the way to new services.