"PTSD dogs have to be what I call bomb proof," she said. "You have to know how they are going to react when that pit bull walks by."
Barbara Teasdale, founder of the San Francisco-based Vets Adopt Pets, which hooks veterans up with groups that adopt shelter dogs or provide service animals, says there is a need for standards. But she notes that many of the groups working to help vets are small "labor of love operations" that can't afford accreditation fees.
And the groups are filling two needs: helping vets and giving homeless dogs a second chance, she said.
One thing they all seem to agree on, however, is that dogs do help soldiers suffering PTSD.
"For instance, we had a client who had night terrors," said Wilson. "He would wake up in the middle of the night just screaming. His dog was taught when he starts getting restless, the dog would turn the light on ... then jump in bed and push his body as close as he could. His wife said his breathing would start to mirror the dog's and he would never wake up."
Stanek compares his relationship with his dog to that of a sniper and a spotter in the military.
"Sarge is my spotter. When we go out, she lets me know what's going on. She lets me know how I am doing," he says. "On a scale of one to 10, I used to sit at about an eight or nine on a constant basis — like wake up that way. Now I sit around at two or three. And Sarge will alert me when that level starts to rise."
Follow Jeri Clausing on Twitter at http://twitter.com/jericlausing
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