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Frequently Asked Questions

What are the symptoms of PTSD and TBI?

Those who suffer from PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) and TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) often experience a range of debilitating symptoms that directly interfere with daily life. These symptoms are are often grouped into four categories. Intrusive memories may include flashbacks and nightmares. Sufferers may attempt to avoid activities or people that remind them of the traumatic event.  Negative changes in thinking and mood may include feelings of detachment, hopelessness and numbness, loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities and difficulty maintaining close relationships. Being easily frightened, trouble sleeping and concentrating, self-destructive behaviors and angry outbursts or aggressive behavior are signs of changes in physical and emotional changes.  Panic attacks, agoraphobia/crowd anxiety, suicidal thoughts, hyper-vigilance, depression, extreme anxiety, reclusive/antisocial behavior, and trouble with balance are also common among those suffering from PTSD. 

Are these dogs service dogs or companion dogs?

According to the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. All of our dogs are individually trained to perform tasks for their veteran. Therefore the dogs that are placed are considered service dogs and are recognized as such by the ADA. According to federal law, the veteran and his/her dog are permitted to enter any public place.  

What can a service dog do to help a veteran with PTSD and TBI?

Medications and therapy can provide some measure of relief for those who struggle with symptoms of PTSD and TBI on a day-to-day basis. Recent studies show that service dogs have been found to help veterans by addressing the biological (lower heart rates and cortisol), psychological, (increased oxytocin and dopamine) and social aspects (feeling less isolated) of PTSD symptoms. In many cases, PTSD and TBI sufferers report that their dogs have allowed them to return to a “normal” life they never would have thought possible.​ Additionally, service dogs are specifically trained to help people perform tasks they cannot otherwise perform for themselves. Such tasks might include providing stability to a person who has trouble with balance; recognizing and interrupting early signs of anxiety, panic attacks and night terrors; creating a "buffer" between the veteran and other people in crowds or other social situations; turning on light switches; and retrieving dropped items.

What are the requirements for applying for a service dog through Toka's Friends?

U.S. military veterans with a diagnosis of PTSD and/or TBI who are under the care of a mental health professional are welcome to apply.  Applicants should live in the Northeast and be able to travel to Massachusetts for training purposes. The applicant must be physically able to care for the dog in the long term and have suitable living arrangements to accommodate a dog. If you meet the criteria listed above and you are interested in applying for a service dog through Toka's Friends, please email us at

How much does it cost to provide a service dog to a veteran?

There is no cost to the veteran for any of the services provided by Toka's Friends.  There are expenses such as veterinary fees, professional training costs, food and supplies which we estimate to be $20,000

per dog trained and placed with a veteran.

How does Toka's Friends obtain its funding?

Toka's Friends relies on individual donations, grants and corporate sponsorships.  Any and all donations are always very much appreciated.

Are donations to Toka's Friends tax deductible?

Yes. Toka's Friends is a federally recognized 501(c)(3).  Our federal ID number for donations is 82-0686041

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