Ontario Command supports service dog program

September 13, 2018 by Legion Magazine
Flanked by staff and veterans, Ontario Command President Sharon McKeown (centre) joins members of Wounded Warriors at the launch of a partnership to expand the PTSD Service Dogs Program in Ontario for ill and injured veterans and their families.

Wounded Warriors Canada’s PTSD Service Dog Program has expanded into Ontario with the help of a $225,000 donation from Ontario Command of the Legion.

The money will fund 10 PTSD service dogs which will be paired with ill or injured veterans and their families.

The move comes after the Canadian General Standards Board announced that it has withdrawn its intention to produce national standards for service dogs. Since the announcement, Veterans Affairs Canada has said it will take on responsibility for developing standards (“VAC moves to set standards for service dogs,” July/August).

In 2015, Ontario Command placed a moratorium on the use of poppy funds for service dogs until Canadian national standards were developed.

“Over three years later, frustrated with the lack of progress in developing these standards, we began resourcing other provincial commands with service dog programs,” said Ontario Command President Sharon McKeown. “We wanted to lift the moratorium to permit donations. However, it was essential the provider be recognized. Partnering with WWC, who had been working with our comrades in the east and west, was a natural step.”

WWC’s PTSD Service Dog Program is a national program to increase the number of properly trained service dogs for ill or injured veterans. In 2018, it plans to pair 25 service dogs, which is a funding commitment of $300,000.

“This is an historic partnership announcement for our organization and marks the single largest contribution to our PTSD Service Dog Program in our history,” said WWC national program director Phil Ralph. “The message today is very clear: we’re stronger when we work together and we’re stronger when we’re in this together for mental health.”

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