With your help we will be able to research and validate the benefits of pet therapy for those returned soldiers who suffer post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) which causes depression, substance abuse, high blood pressure, sleeplessness and tragically in some cases, suicide.

 The Facts

  • Approximately 1 in 12 returning soldiers suffer post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) which causes depression, substance abuse, high blood pressure, sleeplessness, and tragically in some cases, suicide.
  • Sufferers are young, physically healthy men and women whose lives are shattered after experiencing the trauma of war and human death. Many more soldiers die in Australia as a result of suicide than die in active duty.
  • Anecdotally programs that pair PTSD sufferers with dogs from shelters and pounds have achieved dramatic results, enabling sufferers are able to live satisfying lives and contribute to the community. However, the lack of scientific evidence quantifying the benefit has limited these programs to being inadequately resourced and confined to small ad hoc programs, because they are not proven as credible therapy.
  • This potentially high profile project will involve a collaborative with the Dogs fo Diggers, Steve Austin (preeminent dog trainer), APWF and researchers in PTSD.

Our Research Objectives

  • This project aims to provide definitive evidence of the benefit of having military personnel with PTSD train dogs requiring rehoming from municipal pounds and/or animal welfare shelters. This will provide a scientific basis for the programs to be adequately resourced, and available to all those who would benefit.

How this research will make a difference

  • Ultimately, if this program can be shown to provide benefit over conventional therapy and is cost-effective, then it provides a basis for agencies such as the Australian Defence Force to recognise the program as scientifically-proven therapy, and fund the program adequately to benefit military and ex-military PTSD sufferers.
  • Without scientific support, these programs will not receive the funding necessary to support soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress.

 The Investment

$75,000 will cover the costs for a project coordinator to undertake initial pilot work for this study and to secure 4 years of funding to complete the project to improve the lives of soldiers with post-traumatic stress.