Dog Helps Man Manage PTSD Symptoms

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For Gaither, Honey became his purpose.

"I had something to look after. I had to take her out, and it was somebody I was responsible for. She was helping me, but I was helping her also."

Esnarya explained that although the symptoms of many disorders can be alleviated by service dogs, not everyone with one of these illnesses can have a service dog.

"A person has to be able to support the cost of a dog, for example," she said.

Dogs Help Some Cut Down Medication

"Some people who have the dogs have been able to cut down on their medication," said Carol Borden, founder and executive director of Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs.

Borden says that despite the benefits medical service dogs can offer, there are very few available. It costs about $20,000 and takes anywhere from 500 to 1,500 hours to train these dogs, and her organization gives them away for free after an application process. She and others who train service dogs have to rely mostly on donations since there is very little funding available.

Service dogs are protected under the law, meaning they are allowed to be with their handlers in public places provided they are well-behaved. The dogs must be specially trained to respond to their handlers' needs and to act appropriately in public.

Gaither is one of the fortunate few to receive a medical service dog, and he's not sure where he'd be without his Honey.

"It's like a miracle what she's done for me," he said.

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