Congressman Leonard Lance (NJ-07) today toured Barking Hills Country Club in Lebanon. Barking Hills Country Club is a dog training facility that offers Hunterdon families specialized classes in behavior, dog training and boarding facilities and also supplies dogs for television and print work. Lance also learned about Dogs In Service, Inc., a not-for-profit that provides supervised Animal Assisted Therapy teams to children’s hospitals and trains service dogs. He discussed and promoted his recent co-sponsorship of the Veterans Dog Training Therapy Act, which would establish a pilot program for veterans dealing with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) through therapeutic dog training and handling.
“I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the work done at Barking Hills. The dedicated professional staff are giving great services to the many families that bring their dog in for training, classes or boarding. As a dog lover, I appreciate their good work and as a lawmaker I appreciate their interest in community service,” said Lance after the tour.
Susan D. Greenbaum, owner of Barking Hills Country Club and the Executive Director of Dogs In Service, added, “The job of service dog is to help individuals with disabilities function in the world by helping to mitigate their disability. Acquiring the skills to do that requires intensive training of the dog which is why the waiting lists are so long. There aren’t enough qualified dogs, or people to train them, to meet the current demand. We must work to fix that.”
Barking Hills Country Club works to help people train their dogs to be happy, well-behaved members of the family and community. Dogs In Service, Inc.(DIS), housed in the facility, is an all volunteer organization that provides trained Animal Assisted Therapy teams to children’s hospital facilities, provides a limited amount of trained service dogs to people with disabilities. DIS also provides public education and information to groups interested in learning more about Animal Assisted Therapy and Service Dogs. During the tour, Lance spoke of his recent co-sponsorship of the Veterans Dog Training Therapy Act and his interest in building partnerships between the veteran and dog training community to give returning heroes greater access to the proven coping therapy of K9 companion.
A 2013 study by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) estimated that 22 veterans commit suicide each day. The Veterans Dog Training Therapy Act will give veterans dealing with PTSD an outlet to constructively help themselves and other veterans. The bill would establish a pilot program at three to five V.A. medical facilities. These facilities would connect veterans to local therapeutic dog training organizations, which would be responsible for the dogs’ housing and care. Once trained, the service dogs would be given to physically disabled veterans to help them with daily activities. Preliminary research by Kaiser Permanente has shown that veterans who have these service dogs show fewer symptoms of PTSD and depression, have better interpersonal relationships, a lowered risk of substance abuse and better overall mental health.
“I know of many veterans who attest to the value of service dogs in coping with PTS and reintegrating into civilian life. The Veterans Dog Training Therapy Act will make a meaningful difference for many veterans suffering from the scars of war and help in their path to recovery. Our efforts to heal individuals with PTS should acknowledge the unique needs of each patient and no effective treatment or therapy should be ignored,” Lance concluded.