Wounded Warriors Canada investing $300K to create a national PTSD service dog program

Wounded Warriors Canada announced the launch of the Wounded Warriors Canada PTSD Service Dog Program on Feb. 6, 2018 in Halifax. Cory McGraw/Global News

A new program designed to reduce the wait list for PTSD service dogs across Canada was officially launched Tuesday in Halifax.

Wounded Warriors Canada is investing $300,000 in the Wounded Warriors Canada PTSD Service Dog Program.

“This financial contribution by Wounded Warriors Canada is going to allow for high quality trained dogs to be trained and to be put out there, but also for them to be put in the hands quicker and sooner to injured first responders and injured veterans,” said Kevin Johnson, a former police officer and service dog user.

WATCH: ‘A lot of people out there are suffering’: First responders speak about PTSD

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‘A lot of people out there are suffering in silence,” First responders speak out about PTSD

Wounded Warriors Canada says PTSD service dogs can and do change lives. Under the new program, a minimum of 25 PTSD service dogs will be paired with individuals in need in 2018.

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The hope is that the investment will reduce the wait time that currently faces injured and ill veterans, first responders and their families in accessing service dogs.

READ: In Harm’s Way: The PTSD crisis among Canada’s first responders

Officials say it takes an average of two years to complete the training and pairing process for a PTSD service dog. Wounded Warriors Canada says because of the complexity of the training, not all dogs that enter the program graduate.

“We have reached a critical point where we need to get more dogs into the training system in order to begin to address the backlog of Veteran and First Responder applicants who would benefit from being paired with a PTSD Service Dog,” said Scott Maxwell, Executive Director of Wounded Warriors Canada in a news release.

“The good news is that we know Canadians understand the importance and impact of Service Dogs on individuals and families. We’re excited that this program will provide another opportunity for Canadians to join the mission of Wounded Warriors Canada and get in this together for mental health.”

READ MORE: PTSD, suicide and first responders — A lot of talk, and not much progress

The average cost to properly train and pair a PTSD service dog is about $15,000.

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Those interested in the Wounded Warriors PTSD Service Dog Program can apply to become part of the program by clicking here.

-With files from Cory McGraw

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