Therapy dogs can soothe anxious military members, vets

Posted at 2:38 PM, Apr 19, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-19 21:34:57-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV)--Any pet owner knows that the unconditional support a four-legged friend provides can often be the best therapy anyone could ever wish for. 

That's why the USO San Diego has partnered with the local organization Animal Therapy Pets to be there for the men and women of our military, and their families, who are always there to protect the nation. 

RELATED: How to train your dog to be a therapy pet

10News reporter Hannah Mullins visited the USO Neil Ash Airport in San Diego where every Monday and Tuesday the hustle and bustle of travel is made a little less stressful on those deploying and those just arriving in San Diego for a new adventure --- like sailor James Colburn. 

"See, that's what I love," Colburn said as he pet golden retriever Andy. "They follow their owners wherever they go."

But the one place Colburn's dog can't follow him is his here -- where he is to be permanently stationed on USS Comstock. That's why he appreciated Andy's presence so much. 

RELATED: Pet therapy resources for military and vets

According to the U.S. Department of Veteran's Affair's National Center for PTSD, the emotional benefits of having a dog include: 

  • Helps bring out feelings of love
  • They're good companions
  • They're fun and can reduce stress
  • Take orders when trained to do so, which can be helpful to former service members used to giving orders
  • They increase the likelihood of getting out of the house and meeting new people 

How can I help? 

The USO served more than 260,000 military members and families this past year and they can use support to continue to coordinate programs like the pet therapy program. 

The organization's annual fundraiser, Stars and Stripes Gala, will be held May 20 at the San Diego Marriott Marquis and Marina. Ticket information can be found here

Hannah will also bring you more information on how the USO is helping reduce anxiety and stress with pets on 10News at 5:30 p.m. 

Sandy Coronilla is a KGTV digital producer. Follow her @10NewsSandy