VetsFirst, a veterans service program of United Spinal Association, joined Congressman John Carter, R-Texas, who today introduced the Veterans Equal Treatment for Service Dogs Act (VETS Dogs Act) that would prohibit the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) from disallowing the use of service dogs on VA property.
VetsFirst, along with AMVETS and Paws with a Cause, advocated for this critical piece of legislation that will permanently close a loophole in VA policy that has created hurdles to care for veterans with disabilities.
Under current VA policy, only seeing-eye (guide) dogs are exempt from the general prohibition against animals on VA property. Veterans who use service dogs due to their disabilities can still be denied access at the discretion of each VA facility director.
The VA recently issued a directive that if properly implemented could address service dog access. The legislative solution, however, will ensure equality in access that veterans deserve.
“Because of its mission to serve veterans who have disabilities, the VA must be a leader in accommodating access for people with disabilities,” said Heather L. Ansley, Esq., MSW, director of Veterans Policy for VetsFirst.
“VetsFirst appreciates the support of Congressman Carter and his introduction of the VETS Dogs Act,” she added.
“AMVETS believes that that we should never refuse care to veterans based on their disability or the prosthetic device they use to assist them. In this case the prosthetic is a service dog,” said AMVETS Acting Legislative Director Christina Roof.