Tax break for vets’ ser­vice dogs

‘He low­ers my anx­i­ety’

Toronto Sun - - NEWS -

OT­TAWA — Heads turn and smiles break out as the four vet­er­ans make their way through the Bayshore mall in Ot­tawa’s west end. But it isn’t just the men that the shop­pers are watch­ing: it’s also their dogs.

A lit­tle-no­ticed prom­ise in the most re­cent fed­eral bud­get has sparked ap­plause and sighs of re­lief from vet­er­ans across Canada deal­ing with post­trau­matic stress dis­or­der and other psy­cho­log­i­cal trauma.

The com­mit­ment was to add “psy­chi­atric ser­vice dogs” to the list of med­i­cal items that Cana­di­ans can claim as a tax credit, as is al­ready the case with guide dogs for the blind.

“He low­ers my anx­i­ety. He gets me out of the house,” says Dwayne Sawyer of his ser­vice dog, a golden Labrador named Rex who has been help­ing the 22-year vet­eran with his PTSD.

In May 2014, then-vet­er­ans af­fairs min­is­ter Ju­lian Fantino pledged up to $500,000 for a study to as­sess the ben­e­fits and risks of such dogs. A pre­lim­i­nary re­port was re­cently pub­lished.

The find­ings: Ser­vice dogs were found to have “some pos­i­tive ef­fects” on vets’ abil­ity to sleep as well as to man­age their PTSD and de­pres­sion.

The Trudeau gov­ern­ment promised in last month’s bud­get to ex­pand the med­i­cal ex­pense tax credit to in­clude psy­chi­atric ser­vice dogs.


A vet­eran and his ser­vice dog take part in a Vet­er­ans Ser­vice Dog train­ing ses­sion at a mall in Ot­tawa.

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