Shelter dogs help soldiers deal with PTSD
El Paso, TX (KTSM) — It's been confirmed by therapists, psychiatrists and psychologists worldwide that a pet can often be more effective than a pill for people struggling with stress or mental issues.
Rescue-dog volunteer Robert Misseri runs an animal shelter at Fort Braggs, North Carolina called Guardians of Rescue. He says a dog's often a soldier's best friend in combat, and there's also a belief the canines can help after war, too.
Misseri, now looks for pooches to pair up with combat veterans, particularly vets with post traumatic stress or PTSD.
One of those veterans, is John Walis who was 70% disabled by PTSD.
Walis saw combat in Afghanistan and some of what he saw haunted him long after he came home and forced him to seek treatment at the VA.
Walis says the VA gave him pills to sleep, pills to control anxiety it wasn't until Misseri paired him up with a rescue dog, named 'Tommy'.
"Having the dog has just changed my life...it just brings me such joy and having him and showing this love and affection..my thoughts aren't on Afghanistan every day, every few minutes because that's what was happening to me" said Walis.
He is now a volunteer himself and helps Misseri collect stray dogs from base animal shelters across the country. Misseri says that some may need some training as therapy dogs before they can be placed with soldiers but others are ready for new owners right away.
"Talk to any soldier that's suffering from PTSD that has a pet ..and there's your data..that can't be fudged." said Misseri.
If anyone is interested in becoming a foster or wants to volunteer for Guardians of Rescue in some other way, visit www.guardiansofrescue.org