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Introduced by Congresswoman Mazie Hirono (HI-2nd), H.R. 943 would establish a grant program to encourage the use of assistance dogs by certain members of the Armed Forces and veterans that have a disability.
- Disabilities covered include blindness, visual impairment, PTSD, traumatic brain injury, loss of hearing, paralysis, mobility issues, and loss of a limb.
- Nonprofit organizations eligible for the grants must meet certain criteria such as plan for training of the dogs, aftercare services, publicity, expertise in breeding and training, and commitment to humane standards.
- The AVMA is supportive of the use of assistance dogs in appropriate situations.
- The language effectively identifies eligible organizations that have a proven history of providing assistance dogs.
- The language of the bill needs to be tightened to define and ensure the appropriate use of terminology (i.e., "assistance dog," "service dog") and to explore what activities of the program may or may not be covered under the Animal Welfare Act.
Committee on Armed Services, Subcommittee on Readiness, and in addition the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs.