Tuesday, April 5, 2011

H.R. 1154: Veterans Equal Treatment for Service Dogs Act

Veterans would be automatically approved to use their service dogs at all Department of Veterans Affairs facilities nationwide under bipartisan legislation to be introduced Thursday the H.R. 1154: Veterans Equal Treatment for Service Dogs Act or "VETS Dogs Act". 
Currently the VA allows dogs into their facilities, if they are seeing-eye dogs, but service dogs is a matter of local discretion. This can be a problem, according to a recent article in Stars And Stripes:
"AMVETS officials said the use of service dogs to assist wounded troops with brain injuries and missing limbs has increased in recent years, and will likely rise even more in the coming decade. The animals can act as an extra set of hands or legs for troops with severe physical injuries, and provide protection and a sense of calm for veterans suffering emotional trauma.
That value, they said, makes it critical that lawmakers address the rules governing their access to VA facilities."
The substantive part of the bill's text is:
"Congress makes the following findings:
(1) The usage of medical service dogs among veterans is increasing.
(2) The Department of Veterans Affairs currently allows seeing-eye dogs in Department facilities.
(3) The Department does not place any limitations on the access of seeing-eye dogs to Department facilities.
(4) The Americans With Disabilities Act requires that a public entity or place of public accommodation modify its polices, practices, and procedures to allow an individual with a disability to use a service animal.
Section 901 of title 38, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new subsection:
‘(f) The Secretary may not prohibit the use of service dogs in any facility or on any property of the Department or in any facility or on any property that receives funding from the Secretary.’."

This bill is in the first step in the legislative process,being sent to a committee for investigation, deliberation, and probably amendment. Most bills and resolutions never make it out of committee, and often citizen input can make the difference.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Add Veteran's and spouses with Service Dogs as allowable passengers on DoD Space "A" aircraft!