Issued the following announcement on March 11.
Congressman Dan Lipinski (IL-03) this week introduced the Dogs Offering Gentle Support Act or “DOGS Act” (H.R. 6170). The legislation would create a pilot program to study the benefits of therapy dogs on vulnerable populations, including seniors, veterans, and children with developmental disabilities.
“We know that therapy dogs can have a positive impact on the lives of those with post-traumatic stress disorder. We need to explore the opportunities that therapy dogs provide for helping vulnerable Americans,” said Congressman Lipinski. “This program could benefit seniors living in nursing homes, veterans with PTSD, and children with developmental disabilities. We may discover new benefits to dog assisted therapy, and we can lay the foundation for future programs to help those who need it most.”
The DOGS Act would establish a pilot grant program to assist organizations wishing to provide dog therapy to vulnerable groups or individuals. The pilot program would last for three years and allow health officials to directly assess the benefits of dog-assisted therapy on these groups. The proposed program would make it easier to determine the direct benefits of dog-assisted therapy and give researchers and health professionals access to important information that could guide treatment decisions and potentially establish more long-term approaches. The grant program would prioritize those groups and individuals with the greatest need for service animal assistance including veterans and seniors in long term care facilities.