July 20th, 2009
04:43 PM ET
13 years ago

Franken's first goal: Dogs for vets

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/07/13/art.franken0713.gi.jpg caption="Sen. Al Franken unveiled his first legislative goal Monday."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - Newly-minted Sen. Al Franken, D-Minnesota, unveiled his first legislative goal Monday - providing funding to train dogs to work with wounded veterans.

"Service dogs … can be of immense benefit to vets suffering from physical and emotional wounds," Franken wrote in a column published in the Star Tribune. "Yes, they provide companionship. But they can also detect changes in a person's breathing, perspiration or scent to anticipate and ward off an impending panic attack with some well-timed nuzzling. They are trained to let their masters know when it's time to take their medication and to wake them from terrifying nightmares."

Franken, who was recently sworn-in after a nine month battle over the election results, said it costs about $25,000 to train and place a dog and noted his bill would provide hundreds of them to veterans.

The Minnesota Democrat also said there is evidence to show that this kind of program could help reduce the suicide rate among veterans.

"Frankly, I believe it is enough simply to improve the lives of those of whom we asked so much," Franken wrote. "But this program isn't just the right thing to do. It's the smart thing to do. This is win, win, win, win. I've been a senator for only a few days. But I've learned that it's better to listen than to talk, that you don't have to be a lawyer to be impressed by a tremendous jurist like Judge Sotomayor, and that I enjoy working with my Republican colleagues as much as I do with my fellow Democrats."

Filed under: Al Franken
soundoff (304 Responses)
  1. Marc

    Doug Neumann – Clarence Thomas was overturned way more times than S-O-T-O-M-A-Y-O-R (that's how her name is spelled BTW) so what's your point again?
    Mobius – What were you expecting that he would do? 'People, here's the solution for everything; Health Care Reform, Afghanistan War and Economic Crisis, etcetera!'
    He had to start somewhere and even if it's not a 'big' bill/proposition, it's something that WILL WORK (Service dogs do have a comproved beneficial effect on the people they are 'assigned' to) for the good of VETERANS that are in need of their help.

    July 20, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  2. Educate yourselves before you open your mouth and just let the words fall out

    @ Doug Neumann & Mobius

    Why are you such hatefilled human beings? While this may not be the most earth-shaking piece of legislation, it certainly does come from a place of showing gratitude and caring for our service men & women who so much has been asked of the last several years. I just don't see why anyone would carp about this. Unless, you don't think our service men & women deserve our gratitude???? If that's the case, you two are a couple of un-patriotic jerks in my book!

    July 20, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  3. Jackie from Michigan

    I'm appalled at the criticism...I happen to think this is a good idea. Since not too many of our other Senators are thinking about our brave and heroic soldiers once they're no longer able to serve. We have too many of our veterans homeless, shell shocked, mentally unstable, lonely, maimed and that's just name a few things going on with them. This just might help, maybe not all, but some. I can say at least Senator Franken is thinking about our soldiers. Where's the rest of Congress?

    July 20, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  4. KT

    While it is a worthy cause for a lot of folks–I just can't take this guy serious–I keep thinking, "now which TV show has he been watching?"

    July 20, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  5. Elizabeth Shaw

    What a wonderful, sound idea!

    Not only helping our vets but our pets.

    We could use many service dogs as well as train the abundance of abandoned dogs that fit the correct profile for this type of work. A lot of those big black dogs no one wants. A win , win and maybe we can stop some of the this nonsense of killing of our pets like in California with the Mandatory Spay and Neuter bills the Animal Rights Advocates are trying to push down everyones throats as the answer!

    We know better! Give a job a dog and he will be a better dog. You will live a better productive live. Work with his vet and his owner, not punish them with taxes, operations on their young and old pets a like that may threaten their very lives.

    Stop the root of the cause. Find out who is really supplying all those Big,Black Dogs and work with them. It is not the AKC, the show dogs, the guide dogs, the service animals, the ones who will suffer the most from dragonian type laws like SB250!

    July 20, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |

    "I enjoy working with my republican colleagues". Wow, guess your years of bad acting are finally paying off..

    On another note, good idea, great political manuever, but good luck paying for it.

    July 20, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  7. Legna

    He should do something about radical Muslims in his back yard.

    July 20, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  8. Lois

    I have personally seen a dog alert a woman to a seizure. I have personally witnessed my 2 Newfoundland dogs push (escort ?) a woman on an elevator – she was having a panic attack from fear of elevators – while I searched for help and fumbled for my cell phone. I have watched one of my dogs calm a whole classroom of special ed kids on numerous occasions. And on and on. They are cheaper and safer than pills.

    July 20, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  9. Karma awaits R Cloos

    Doug Neumann July 20th, 2009 12:56 pm ET

    "..Tremendous judge like Sotomeyer?" Hey Al, have you reviewed her cases and how many times she has been overturned?

    Hey Doug
    Have YOU??? Try researching the facts rather than letting Limbaugh do that for you

    Of the majority opinions that Judge Sonia Sotomayor has authored since becoming an appellate judge in 1998, four of her appellate opinions have been overturned by the Supreme Court.

    Four cases is less than 2% percent of all that she has written and 60 percent of those reviewed by the Supreme Court. 60% is well below the average reversal rate of all cases reviewed by the supreme court

    What a moron

    July 20, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  10. jlynch

    Clearly none of you have any family members with impairments or disabilities–service dogs for wounded servicement? Absolutely. I find that to be a just request, and though I'm not from MN, I'm giving him credit for even thinking of the members of his state that have served their country (for YOU)... Sorry that you're all so negative.

    July 20, 2009 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  11. athansor

    Wouldn't it be more appropriate to say that vets were his first priority, as this program is to benefit returning vets. That title wouldn't make Franken look silly, though, which I'm guessing was the point here.

    July 20, 2009 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  12. Esco

    Thank you! this is what we are supposed to see in the news, something worth reading. It really touched my heart to know that they can have a companion to rely on; no better way than to include man's best friend.

    July 20, 2009 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  13. Debbie

    Hey Doug, why don't you tell us how many of her thousands of rulings have been overturned? And tell me how that compares to other appeals court judges - you know, to be fair and balanced.

    July 20, 2009 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  14. Linda

    What a wonderful way to begin his service in the Senate!
    Al, keep listening to your heart. It is obviously in the right place.

    July 20, 2009 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  15. Russ H

    By god, we actually have a senator trying to help us Vets and he is from where I was born in Mn

    July 20, 2009 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  16. Jane in Windsor, CA

    I love this guy already.

    July 20, 2009 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  17. Jana

    Thank God for Al Franken – a voice of reason, compassion AND wise spending.

    What don't you cynical people get? You're walking around today, doing what you please, living where you want, etc, etc. because these veterans were more courageous than 95% of us big-mouthed scaredy cats.

    Giving them a dog - come on! They probably are unable to easily sustain intimate relationships, develop families or careers. You are an example of GREED at its worst. Spoiled brats – what don't you understand -

    "Freedom isn't free"

    July 20, 2009 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  18. davetharave

    How refreshing. Yes this is change and long overdue. Al brings a sense of humanity and compassion into a legislative chamber that is all chafe and bluster. Mobius, do you really think the last 20 years in the Senate has been something this country can be proud of ? Just relax and let it happen, you'll be surprised at the results.

    July 20, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  19. Rabbi Shmuley

    He only took tips.

    July 20, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  20. Russ H

    Oh, I forgot. He is part of Congress, so maybe this is just a fantasy

    July 20, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  21. awestruck

    OMG! You have got to be kidding. Is this the best Minnesota can come up with. Being an eleven year veteran I don't even know where to begin. What a monumental waste of money. I say we take the money and spend it studying the obvious psychological deformity that is Al Fraken.

    July 20, 2009 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  22. Sherrol in Canada

    Sotomayor isn't the issue folks, it's the dogs he wants to help the Vets. What's worng with that? It's and excellent idea.

    July 20, 2009 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  23. The Lonely Libertarian of Liverpool NY

    This is your priority Al, taking on a special interest issue?
    The 57 % of the current working population without a job is not more important? Or the multi trillion dollars in proposed spending on the health care bill is not more important? What about the people who are suffering in your home district, these people are not more important than guide dogs?
    just who are these elected leaders answering to? the special interest groups who fund their campaigns or the people?

    July 20, 2009 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  24. Charlie in Maine

    Dearest Doug,

    Your statement: " Hey Al, have you reviewed her cases and how many times she has been overturned?" Has serious merit. But not in the way you think. The supreme court is currently swayed way too far to the right. The fact that her decisions were overturned by conservative judges is yet one more reason she should be confirmed. It is also why we should keep sending Thomas and Scalia brochures on retirement communinties.

    July 20, 2009 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  25. nancy melchiorre

    Maybe he's not ALL bad......? but, what I'd REALLY like to see is, dogs trained to replace members of the Congress & the Senate! I think their intellectual capacity is greater & certainly, their inherent level of common sense is!!

    July 20, 2009 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
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