The Four-Legged PTSD Treatment

K9s for Warrriors

K9s for Warriors offers a drug-free alternative: dogs.

I reported on March 18 that the Veterans Affairs Department treats more than 30 percent of veterans diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder with tranquilizers such as Xanax and Valium, despite clinical practice guidelines issued in 2010 warning against their use.

Shari Duval, president of K9s for Warriors, a non-profit located in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., says she has a drug free alternative for vets with PTSD: service dogs that help veterans overcome fear, stress and anxiety.

Duval is well aware of the pharmaceutical approach to PTSD treatment. “It’s not unusual to see most of our veterans on over 20 medications,” she said. 

That’s where the four legged prescription comes in.  K9s for Warriors houses the vets and their dogs while in training for three weeks at no cost, and this includes meals but not cigarettes or Red Bull, which the vets (not the dogs, who know better) have to buy on their own, Duval said.

The outfit has graduated 61 vets and their dogs since 2011, Duval said, at a cost to the foundation of $10,000 each, which donations have covered.

One of the things I like best about K9s for Warriors is it rescues the service dogs as well as the vets – with the majority of the dogs adopted from animal shelters.

Years ago, after Vietnam, I tried the Budweiser cure (another drug) to deal with my combat stress. I wish instead I had found a dog like Theo, my black Santa Fe, animal shelter lab/collie mix who is a surefire stress reducer.

Do dogs, not drugs.