DoD one step closer to creating uniform standards for Service Dogs, Therapy Animals

Subject matter experts and representatives from each of the Armed Services came together Wednesday to shape a DoD policy that has been months in the making.  The topic of discussion was “man’s best friend.”  The goal is a new, DoD-wide policy related to specially-trained animal companions known as Service Dogs and Therapy Animals.

A participant engages other members of a group working to develop a uniform Defense Department Policy on Service Animals and Therepy Animals.

WWCTP brings together experts from across the Services to hammer out a comprehensive Defense Department policy governing service animals and therapy animals. There are currently just a few local policies, leaving most commanders with no clear guidance on this issue of critical importance to many wounded warriors.

The Office of Wounded Warrior Care and Transition Policy brought together this group of specialists to finalize and refine an overarching DoD Instruction aiming to eliminate disparate and sometimes confusing policies located only at the local level that the Services and individual installations currently follow regarding Service Dogs and Therapy animals for wounded Service members.  During the day-long meeting, participants were divided into two working groups; one to develop a policy covering Service Dogs, and one to tackle Therapy Animals.  Topics of discussion within the groups ranged from ensuring that guidance for military installation leaders is clear to refining the procedures in determining Service member eligibility for a Service Dog or Therapy Animal.

By the end of the day, both groups had successfully identified gaps within the existing proposed policy and incorporated their suggested improvements.  We look forward to seeing this policy improve the care and support to our wounded warriors.

A working group discusses key issues to shape a Defense Department policy on service animals and theapy animals.

Participants brainstorm the way ahead to ensure wounded warriors who need service animals will be able to use them in their military barracks and on the job site.