Mike Sheffield via Hopes&Fears:
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Service dogs for people with emotional disabilities and mental illnesses play a complex role in society and struggle for legitimacy. Hopes&Fears meets with the trainers of the canine companions most qualified to deal with the nuanced needs of people with PTSD and other “invisible” disabilities.
On an overcast Wednesday morning in Dobbs Ferry, New York, Lu and Dale Picard greet us at the door to the center for ECAD, or Educated Canines Assisting With Disabilities. The Picards founded the nonprofit organization in 1995 to train service dogs for people with different disabilities, from children with autism spectrum disorders to people with Parkinsons and Bipolar Disorder. Of the 300 dogs the Picards have bred, trained, and looked after, 40 have been for veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. While service dogs for people with physical disabilities are readily incorporated into our society, service dogs for people with emotional disorders or, as Dale puts it “invisible disabilities,” like PTSD have yet to see the same acceptance.