Dogs Provide Help For Veterans With PTSD

    In honor of memorial day, I thought I would highlight the role animals play in helping our veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  Here in Arizona, the nonprofit organization Soldiers Best Friend matches dogs with soldiers who suffer from this debilitating problem.  Once a soldier is accepted into the program, they are matched with a dog who is usually adopted from a shelter.  From that point on, the two live together in order to quickly create a deep bond.  They attend classes that teach the veteran and the dog how to work together as a team.  Depending upon the program selected, dogs will graduate as either a Certified Service Dog or a Therapeutic Companion Dog.  
    People with PTSD suffer from a multitude of symptoms including acute panic attacks, fear of crowded areas, nightmares, depression and anxiety.  The dogs learn to read their veteran’s emotional state and provide comfort by waking them up, cuddling into their side or protecting them from strangers.  The dog gives the veteran the confidence to go out into the world again.  More information is available at
    The Veterinary Health Care Team of Arizona decided to sponsor the team of Staff Sergeant Michael Harris and his dog, Maddy.  Maddy was adopted from the Yavapai Humane Society in Prescott, Arizona.  They are trying to raise $2,500.00 for training expenses.  If you would like to help, please go to to make a donation. 

Published by kristennelsondvm

Dr. Kristen Nelson grew up on a farm in Watertown, Minn., where she developed a deep love for animals of all kinds. She received a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Minnesota, College of Veterinary Medicine. Kris then completed a small-animal internship at the prestigious Animal Medical Center in New York City. In addition to writing and speaking, she cares for small and exotic animals in Scottsdale, Az. Dr. Nelson is widely quoted in the media. Her credits include Ladies’ Home Journal, USA TODAY, the Los Angeles Times and numerous radio and television interviews. Dr. Nelson has written two books, Coated With Fur: A Vet’s Life and Coated With Fur: A Blind Cat’s Love. Kris and her husband Steve share their home with rescued cats, birds and a dog.