Service Dogs for Veterans Act Passes Congress
Service Dogs for Veteran’s Act
Senator Al Franken’s (D-MN) first piece of legislation, the Service Dogs for Veterans Act, has passed the Senate.
The bill requires the “Secretary of Veterans Affairs to carry out a pilot program to assess the feasibility and advisability of using service dogs for the treatment or rehabilitation of veterans with physical or mental injuries or disabilities.” The program will provide about 200 trained service dogs to disabled veterans and will set up a multi-year study to determine the costs and benefits involved.
Cost of the Program to Provide Service Dogs to Veterans
The cost of the program is about $5 million out of the $680.2 billion 2010 Defense Authorization Bill. The cost of training each service dog is about $25,000. Although there are a number of charitable groups that raise the money and provide training for service dogs, the waiting list for trained service dogs is long, reports the Twin Cities Pioneer Press.
The funding for this bill is not intended to take the place of the work nonprofits do. Its goal is to study the feasibility of government funding for service dogs in the treatment and rehabilitation of wounded vets.
What is Next for the Service Dogs for Veterans Act?
The bill was approved in Congress on Thursday, October 22, as part of the Defense Authorization Bill. The legislation was co-sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA). Representatives Ed Whitfield (R-KY) and Ron Klein (D-FL), championed a companion version of the bill in the House. It now awaits the signature of President Obama to become law.
S. 1495 – Service Dogs for Veterans Act, as introduced.