PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Canines have long been known as “man’s best friend.” From assistance to therapy to service and rescue, dogs have always been devoted and steadfast in their unique abilities to help mankind.

Now a new type of canine therapy and aid has emerged, most recently at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, where dogs are now known to help heal war veterans suffering from severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

P2V, which is short for Pets 2 Vets is a non-profit organization founded last year by soldier, Dave Sharpe, who has suffered from severe PTSD with no relief and has since found his only dramatic improvement with his shelter dog, a brown and white pit bull mix named Cheyenne. Now Sharpe seeks to help other service men and women.

Many organizations such as Patriot Paws and Hounds4Heroes are now pairing wounded vets with many canines to help with this trauma.

Studies published in 1998 at Virginia University found psychiatric patients’ anxiety decreased twice as much after spending thirty minutes of their time with dogs than it did following standard therapeutic recreation involving art and music. A 2003 study proved a significant reduction in fear and stress among patients awaiting electroconvulsive therapy after spending only fifteen minutes with dogs. In March, a study revealed the buffering effect dogs have on stress experienced by their human partners, as measured through cortisol levels, heart rate and blood pressure.

Reported By Nan Talleno, KYW Newsradio

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