"The welfare of dogs is paramount to all concerned in the development of partnerships involving mental health."
It is already accepted that among veterans with PTSD there is
acknowledgement to the way animals create a sense of safety and security
for their human companions; but equal attention needs to be paid to the
safety and welfare of any dogs used as an intervention for mental health.
Safety is an important concern when using dogs in any health care
capacity. Specifically, the safety of the animal, the human companion,
and the general public.
As a founding organisation in the field of enriching the quality of life and enhancing the independence of Veterans living with mental health difficulties by providing specially trained dogs, VETERANS WITH DOGS bears special responsibility to ensure the welfare of all dogs is exemplary.
Commonly the welfare of dogs emphasis is placed on the role of training, so that dogs are prepared for an appropriate match between the human and dog. However there are important factors of ongoing veterinary care, continued monitoring and training, and education of all those involved with the assistance dog.
We work closely with our extended support partnerships in education, training of health care professions and care providers on the role of assistance dogs in mental health as essential to their effectiveness in managing mental health.Our constant internal review methods drive the standards that we work to and aim to achieve, we set high professional standards, which we continue to improve from our procedures, policies and working practices.
Responsible Dog Ownership
What exactly does that mean? .. and what is considered "responsible"?
Are you the owner of a dog that will run from you and not come back.or jump on visitors, or chew up things and dig holes like a badger?
Having your dog trained is part of the "responsible" equation. An ill-behaved or aggressive dog is one that eventually gets ignored. You lose interest to walk them if they tug and pull. You don't allow them into the house if they have accidents or annoy visitors. Over time it drives a wedge between you and your pooch. The top reason dogs get relinquished for re-homing (some of whom never find a forever home) is because of behavioural problems. But the blame doesn't lie with the dog. It is inherently your fault. Do the right thing, take the time and invest in getting your dog trained and socialised.
Your dog is a biological wonder: Intelligent, diverse, athletic and built to survive - and for that reason their health should be monitored no different than you or I. In fact, because they can't speak and they age much quicker than us they need to see the "interpreter" at least once a year. You're vet has been trained to speak "dog" and their input is invaluable to the graceful, healthy ageing of your dog. Be proactive in the health care of your dog. We're fortunate these days to have so many resources at our fingertips. Get away from the old school thinking of "I'll give it a few days and see if he gets better."
If your dog is lost, is it gone forever? What have you done to ensure he'll make it back home? Excuses no longer rub, "he's an inside dog only," or "he's too old". Dogs end up on the streets or in rescue centres for many, many reasons. Your dog should have a collar with a current I.D. tag AND a microchip. Lastly, you should be aware of current legislation and regulations.
Spay & Neuter
This is pretty basic. Your dog either IS, or it ISN'T. For many reasons this is one of the more important things you can do for the health and longevity of your dog, not to mention doing your part to reduce our nation's pet overpopulation problem. Of course there are rare exceptions such as responsible breeders show and trial dogs, but they are rare.
The Friend Factor
This is subjective and will require some HONEST assessment on your part. Ask yourself how good of a companion are you to your dog? Do you take an interest in them? When you arrive home from work, do you seek them out to say hello? Obviously you have a life outside of your pet, but your dog's whole world revolves around you. Dogs are not wild animals. They've been domesticated for thousands of years and therefore need a relationship with their owner to be fulfilled.
But actually loving them and giving them your time is maybe the most important aspect of dog ownership.
We should take an approach that pet ownership is not a right, it is a privilege.
Use these guidelines to aspire to the best owner possible. Your dog certainly deserves it.