AUSTIN, Texas (FOX 7 Austin) - A proposed bill could regulate groups and businesses that train assistance animals for veterans with PTSD. Those for the bill say it will crack down on those looking to make money off a vet, while those against it say it will limit options for vets.
Training an assistance animal takes a lot of time and money.
The writing in this bill would penalize groups that fail to comply with the regulations and allow the veteran to get any money back which they spent on the animal. “The ultimate goal is to protect our veterans because we have veterans getting hurt, taken advantage of, and we just want them to be able to get a good quality dog,” said Jill Tate a volunteer with Patriot Paws.
Patriot Paws is spearheading House Bill 3840, a bill aimed at helping veterans with PTSD who were given an inadequate assistance animal. “Those who've been taken advantage of we just want them to get their money back if they get a proverbial lemon they need to be able to sue and get their money back,” said Tate.
Tate said they get calls daily from veterans asking for help who had a bad experience from other groups that provide assistance animals. “They’re given a dog and they may pay thousands of thousands of dollars for and the dog is nothing more than an expensive puppy,” said Tate.
This bill would make providers and trainers of assistance dogs provide an average of 30 or more hours of one-on-one training over a 90-day or longer period to each assistance animal provided. They will also need to provide the veteran at least 30 hours of training with the assistance animal.
The assistance animal would also need to pass various tests.
Those who fail to follow these regulations could be fined and liable for the amount a person paid for the assistance animal. “We're just asking that they have certain standards that they use to make sure their dog preforms,” said Tate.
Those against the bill say these added regulations will limit the options out there for veterans as there is already a high demand and wait list for assistant animals. “It's tough enough trying to get a dog through the VA system as far as being authorized. We don't need to keep putting hurdles and blockades in there,” said Bart Sherwood with Train a Dog Save a Warrior.
The bill was discussed by the Defense & Veteran’s affairs committee Monday. Members plan to vote soon on bringing it to the house floor after going over what was discussed at the hearing.