The University of Missouri (MU) College of Veterinary Medicine’s Research Center for Human-Animal Interaction (ReCHAI) is conducting a study to help U.S. military veterans handle combat-related issues.
In the study, veterans work with a canine training buddy to cope with issues such as substance abuse or post-traumatic stress disorder while helping shelter dogs become more adoptable.
“Health professionals are seeing increasing reports of combat-related stress in returning veterans,” said Rebecca Johnson, director of ReCHAI and associate professor for the MU Sinclair School of Nursing and College of Veterinary Medicine. “This study benefits both ends of the leash, because we know that interaction with animals relieves stress and lessens symptoms of depression and anxiety. Not only will veterans help dogs exercise and receive necessary training, but the dogs will potentially provide stress relief for the veterans.”
MU’s ReCHAI is supported by grants from Mars Petcare, Waltham, Pedigree Foundation, Banfield Charitable Trust and the MU Research Board, to conduct a study of the benefit of veterans training shelter dogs.
The study began in early 2011 and will conclude in 2013. Veterans learn to train dogs, and then they mentor families who adopt shelter dogs. Select dogs will be trained as service dogs to work with soldiers who need assistance.
“People with military backgrounds possess excellent discipline skills and will be dedicated to the training, Johnson said. “Because of their skills, they will be creating super dogs to be adopted by military and civilian families. Trained shelter dogs are better adoption candidates.”