VA Dog rules sometimes heart-breaking
This is sort of a heart-wrenching story for anyone who is a dog-lover. Those two pictured above are mine, and certainly not service dogs. The black and white one, "Fenway" would probably bite or kiss everyone if he got out of the house, and the blonde one "Mosby" would push his jihad on the mailman. But whenever I am completely stressed out, I love having them there. They usually go one on each side and just push into me, which is both annoying and comforting.
So imagine what Alexis Courneen is facing in this Leo Shane Stars and Stripes article. (For what it is worth, I would have to say that Leo is my favorite reporter in the country right now. He really does great work.)
Alexis Courneen’s 6-year-old yellow lab Sooner is a beloved family member and the one who convinces her its safe to leave the house each day. But to the Department of Veterans Affairs, the dog is just another piece of equipment.
And a broken one at that.
The service dog just underwent his second ACL surgery this year and is rehabbing in an effort to return to his full duties. Without him, Alexis — an injured Coast Guard veteran — struggles with everyday tasks.
“He’s been a part of my healing in ways I never thought,” the 34-year-old said. “He helps with my balance and can alert bark if I’m in trouble. But he’s also given me the confidence to go out in public and try things like public speaking.
“But under VA rules, he might as well be scrap metal.”
VA officials paid for the dog's first surgery but balked at the second, even though veterinarians insist Sooner still has years of productive work ahead of him.
Earlier this year, they told Alexis that the dog should be “retired.”
After she went ahead with the surgery, officials said her family could lose all financial support for the animal from the VA, since they still question whether he’s fit for duty. That might mean a few hundred dollars in medical visits and new harnesses. Or it could mean thousands if he needs more surgery.
You should go and read the rest of the article if you have time. Even for those of us who self-medicate with pets like my two monsters, this is kind of a tough read. I get why dogs are under the "prosthetics" section of VA, but some common sense obviously needs to be applied here. Even if it is just a sort of economic comparison. Sure, a new dog might be less expensive, but can you imagine the damage this would do to Alexis? Come on man.