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Service dogs help Hoosiers with PTSD

Billy Floyd in service.png
Billy and Bella.jpg
Billy and Bella
Posted at 9:20 AM, Jun 27, 2024

ZIONSVILLE — Thursday is National Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Awareness Day.

Indiana Canine Assistant Network (ICAN), a local service dog organization, wants to educate the community about how animals can improve the lives of those living with PTSD.

The nonprofit helps to provide safety, friendship, and independence for children, veterans, and adults with disabilities and veterans with service-related traumas specific to PTSD, traumatic brain injury, and military sexual trauma.

Billy Floyd in service.png

Suicide is a big concern for vets living with PTSD.

About 22 veterans take their lives every day, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

“I’ve been there and I can understand why people do it. But also I see that there is a reason, we always have to find a reason everyday to get up."
Huntington resident Billy Floyd

Floyd’s reason is his family and his pup Bella.

Billy and Bella.jpg

He served for 12 years before an injury put the brakes on his military career.

He now suffers from mobility issues, seizures and post-traumatic stress disorder.

“I used to worry all the time, because I would get caught on the floor, spazzing out and not knowing what’s going on. I had no idea what happened," he said.

About a year ago, he connected with ICAN and started working with Bella.

He describes the smiling goldendoodle as loving, perceptive, and sometimes too smart for her own good.

Floyd is one of about 150 active clients working with ICAN.

Billy and Bella

“A small portion of these are psychiatric dogs helping veterans. Our goal over the next several years is to increase that number so we can place more psychiatric service dogs with veterans living in Indiana," ICAN Representative Samantha Thompson said.

Psychiatric service animals are only available to those living in the Fort Wayne area.

But Thompson says they offer an array of other services statewide.

“We have mobility assistance dogs as well as facility assistance dogs. Mobility help individuals who maybe need a little help getting around. Maybe that’s standing up, walking, picking things off the floor. Facility assistance dogs actually work at a place of business, like a school, hospital or courthouse," Thompson said.

It costs about $30,000 to train a service dog, which comes free of cost for clients who are veterans.