Service Dog Helps Vet Cope with PTSD

The phrase “dog is man’s best friend” might be an understatement to those who suffer from disorders or disabilities that require a service dog. News 25’s Kristen Durand introduces us to one veteran who uses a service dog to cope with PTSD.
Much has changed for U.S. Army veteran Catherine Best over the past eight years, her senses elevated and on high alert after returning home from Iraq in 2008 and being diagnosed with PTSD. “Huge crowds, people rushing up, people behind me, startling me,” said Best.
Those are all things that can trigger an episode but Catherine no longer has to walk through it alone, thanks to Jingles, who is always be her side and trained to bring Catherine back to reality during PTSD episodes that psychologically take her back to Iraq. “He’ll sense it when I start tensing up on the leash. He’ll sense it when I start panicking, when I start looking around,” said Best.
Currently, Mississippi only recognizes service dogs for the seeing and hearing impaired. The state does not recognize PTSD dogs for veterans. After she was kicked out of several grocery stores and restaurants, Catherine turned to her friend Jeff McCall, owner and master trainer of the International K9 Foundation, for help. “After hearing Catherine’s story, I contacted my representative, House Representative Sam Mims, this was back in September, and he was on board. Thought it was a great idea, said he thought it was right for Mississippi,” said McCall.
Catherine’s story prompted Jeff to write House Bill 154 which would have added PTSD to the list of qualifying impairments allowing for the use of support animals in public places. The bill didn’t last long in the state Legislature. It died in the House. “When’s the next time I have to go out in public and be scared? You know, this bill would have given them a little bit more comfort, actually a lot more comfort. I’m just disappointed,” said Best.
Their mission continues, as they still pair up service dogs with our veterans who suffer with PTSD. “Whether the state decides to recognize them or not is not going to stop me from doing it,” said McCall.
“I’ve had Jingles for two years and he’s been my lifeline. He has pretty much kept me alive for two years,” said Best.

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