Dog suffers from PTSD after serving in Iraq


posted by Dr. Ashraf Ezzat

by Abbie Burke

from FOX21 News

Gina, a four year old German shepherd, served a six month tour of duty in Iraq.

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, COLO. — Being at war is physically and emotionally tough.

Often times military servicemen and women who witness traumatic events suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD.

But apparently some veterinarians say the disorder can also affect animals that are used in war zones.

Gina, a four year old German shepherd, served a six month tour of duty in Iraq.

She worked as an explosive patrol dog, doing raids with the army.

When she returned to the states Peterson Air Force officials say she was terrified of just about everything.

Gina was diagnosed with PTSD by a military veterinarian.

She went through five months of rehabilitation at Peterson and officials say she’s on her way to recovery.

When Gina first returned home from war, she was merely a shadow of the dog she was before her deployment.

“If you went in a room and there were people in there she’d go hide underneath the desk or she’d try to hide behind the handler,” said MSgt Eric Haynes, who is Peterson’s kennel master.

Now more than a year later, Gina is happy and playful once again. She’s even gone back to work on base.

“She stands at the gate alert and focused. She’s not scared of cars pulling up or anything. She’s come around tremendously,” said SSgt Melinda Miller, Gina’s new handler.  

But it wasn’t easy. Haynes worked on rehabilitating Gina for five months.

“You feel bad for them but you can’t let that get in the way of your training. You know if you spend all the time feeling bad for her then you’ll never be able to make her better,” said Haynes.

Gina hasn’t completely recovered but she’s making progress every day, with her new handler.

Miller and Gina are considered a perfect match.

“She’s a very lovable dog, very lovable dog, and she’s grown on me tremendously,” said Miller.

Both Haynes and Miller say rehabilitating Gina has been a lot of work. But to them it was the right thing to do.

“It’s your partner you know. You don’t want to give up on your partner,” said Miller.

“She’s definitely one happy pup,” said Haynes.

There is some controversy over whether or not animals can actually have PTSD but Dr. Melanie Marsden, with The Pikes Peak Veterinarian Clinic, says it is possible for dogs to be traumatized.

She says a dog acting very withdrawn, being scared of small noises, and in general not acting like themselves could be showing signs of PTSD.

Until further studies are done Dr. Marsden says its not clear what the similarities are between human PTSD and canine PTSD.


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Ashraf Ezzat is an Egyptian born in Cairo and based in Alexandria. He graduated from the faculty of Medicine at Alexandria University. Keen not to be entirely consumed by the medical profession, Dr. Ezzat invests a lot of his time in research and writing. History of the ancient Near East and of Ancient Egypt has long been an area of special interest to him. In his writings, he approaches ancient history not as some tales from the remote times but as a causative factor in our existing life; and to him, it's as relevant and vibrant as the current moment. In his research and writings, Dr. Ezzat is always on a quest trying to find out why the ancient wisdom had been obstructed and ancient spirituality diminished whereas the Judeo-Christian teachings and faith took hold and prospered. Dr. Ezzat has written extensively in Arabic tackling many issues and topics in the field of Egyptology and comparative religion. He is the author of Egypt knew no Pharaohs nor Israelites. He writes regularly at many well-known online websites such as Dissident Voice and What Really Happened. Dr. Ezzat is also an independent filmmaker. His debut film was back in 2011 The Annals of Egypt Revolution and in 2012 he made Tale of Osiris a short animation for children. In 2013 his short The Pyramids: story of creation was screened at many international film festivals in Europe. And he is working now on his first documentary "Egypt knew no Pharaohs nor Israelites".