posted by Dr. Ashraf Ezzat
by Abbie Burke
from FOX21 News
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She says a dog acting very withdrawn, being scared of small noises, and in general not acting like themselves could be showing signs of PTSD.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.