Veterans applaud Ottawa's decision to add 'service dogs' to list of claimable medical items

A little-noticed promise in the most recent federal budget has sparked applause and sighs of relief from veterans dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder and other psychological trauma.

The commitment was to add ``psychiatric service dogs'' to the list of medical items that Canadians can claim as a tax credit on income-tax forms, as is already the case with guide dogs for the blind.

Dwayne Sawyer, 22-year veteran with PTSD, says his service dog, a golden Labrador named Rex lowers his anxiety and helps him get out of the house.

A two-and-a-half-year study commissioned in 2014 became delayed, but a preliminary report was recently published.

The findings, three months after they were obtained, service dogs were found to have ``some positive effects'' on veterans' ability to sleep as well as to manage their PTSD and depression.