The need for service dogs is at an all time high. It's because more people are aware of what dogs can do, but greatly because of an influx of returning war heroes (I think anyone fighting for our country is a hero) returning with physical and mental scars.
As his first action of business as a U.S. Senator, I was one of the first to write about Senator Al Franken's (D-MN) legislation to make government funding available, particularly for psychiatric service dogs.
A term which is being used increasingly, and just got a boost from a New York Times story on service dogs for returning veterans, Friday, April 2. The dogs are used for various conditions, but most often for post traumatic stress disorder.
Just a decade ago, the concept of dogs helping returning soldiers might have been laughed at. Today, there's tons of good science (with more in the pipeline) supporting this notion of dogs helping people with various psychiatric disorders. Of course, you could just ask those with the dogs as the New York Times did.
The good news is that these service dogs will likely be a great thing for taxpayers! Some soldiers with dogs will use fewer drugs or at least lower dosages. And won't as often be receiving benefits because they are out of work - they will contribute to society; dogs provide the confidence and social buffer to get them out into the world.
(thanks to Alejandra, and others who told me about this wonderful New York Times story)