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  • Dogs are family members, and like human family, can be either helpful or harmful, depending on a variety of factors which are probably beyond the scope of research. I am happy to see leadership stepping back and asking good questions, especially since my VA is currently struggling with untrained "service dogs" whose bad behavior is becoming more problematic for everyone. A potentially disastrous mix involved a "service chicken" in the room with untrained "service dogs." Additionally, one of the problems we have in mental health is the idea that our goal is to make people feel better. I would argue that having better function is actually a better goal, and does not necessarily mean feeling less distress. Additionally, if an untrained "emotional support animal" helps the designated patient but negatively affects other people, how do we account for that in our research? (By the way, I am an animal lover.)

    Thanks for asking some very good questions.

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