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. Andrew

    The republicans (party of supporting the troops apparently) will be the first to come here and bash this is bet.

    July 20, 2009 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  2. PROUD to be the Party of NO socialism!

    Al's strategy after his election debacle- lay low, be nice to everyone, support causes like this one that no one can possibly be against.

    Meanwhile, behind the scenes, back all kinds of silly left wing proposals that would annoy a lot of the folks back home...if they knew!

    July 20, 2009 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  3. david kitchen

    Right on! Franken is doing what he promised- setting aside partisanship and focusing on something that is affecting many of our vets. In addition, he is taking a nuanced approach to a problem while using his personal creative touch to help those who, it seems, the system has forgotten. It's not ALL about taxes, judges, and stimulus packages. Thanks Senator Franken for proving that a politician CAN in fact live up to their campaign promises to look out for EVERYONE

    July 20, 2009 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  4. Chad

    As an Iraq veteran, I'm glad to finally see people in Congress caring about soldiers and veterans. I received 2 severely herniated discs in an IED blast in OIF1. Later after returning home, I was stop-lossed and sent back to Iraq even though I had a P3 profile and designated non-deployable. I completed my final tour and when I left service the VA did nothing for me.

    Since we have a new administration, and a new head of the VA, I have been asked to return.. and they are taking care of me now.

    I was a Republican before I joined the military... now I can't stand them.

    July 20, 2009 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  5. Sniffit

    Funny enough, he's 100% correct about what these dogs can be trained to do and the measurable effect thereof. Sure, you can superficially trash his idea silly if you want, but he's got a suprisingly good point when you look under the hood. What's better, $25,000 training for dogs that may help decrease the suffering of and medical costs for our veterans OR untold health care and societal costs when our veterans have prolonged mental and physical illness as a result of their service and sometimes end up homeless because of it? A warning to the GOPers: be very careful, because this guy will dance circles around you just like Obama and many others have been doing if you refuse to look beyond the superficial.

    July 20, 2009 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  6. gary

    just what this country needs another left wing socialist liberal is there something in the water in minnesota, i would have voted for coleman for the simple reason that he was a roadie for ten years after at woodsock and we know how they stole the show, true story,

    July 20, 2009 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  7. makesUwonder

    Well, here's my question Al.............will these dogs come from the shelters or are you planning on purchasing them from breeders? If they don't come from shelters I will know you're more of a fool than I first thought. Don't be like Obama and Kennedy and purchase these dogs from breeders when there are thousands of wonderful dogs at shelters needing good homes.

    July 20, 2009 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  8. AEK

    Just one of those stories that reminds us of how calloused and insensitive the Republican base can actually be. No wonder there so few left in the national government and why their numbers continue to drop. As a Viet Nam veteran, I think it is high time that someone, regardless of their occupation prior to getting into politics, came up with some creative ideas to help those men and women the Republicans sent to war cope with the results.

    July 20, 2009 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  9. JGB

    And how much of our tax dollars does he want to waste on this?

    July 20, 2009 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  10. xavier

    How many times did the GOP appointed judges get overturned? Keep in mind that they served a much shorter time then Sotomayor.

    July 20, 2009 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  11. Jason

    Is this a joke?

    seriously what a waste of a senate seat.

    July 20, 2009 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  12. Lary Craig

    I dont get it,the Republican patron saint Ronald Reagan was in a movie starring a monkey(bedtime for bonzo)and now they attack Franken for being in SNL.What a joke.

    July 20, 2009 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  13. Jonita

    I think this is an Excellent idea for are men and women...

    July 20, 2009 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  14. Buffalo

    Al, you've got my vote all over again.

    July 20, 2009 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  15. RSaundersPA

    @Mobius: How is it idiocy to try to do something to aid our wounded vets? Maybe you don't agree with some of his stands, I don't. However, save your vitriol for something appropriate. Mindless attacks against everything that comes from someone in "the other party" does not help the democratic process of our government. If you can't be part of the solution, at least try not to be part of the problem.

    July 20, 2009 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  16. Jen

    I find your headline - "Franken makes dog first priority" or whatever it was - disingenous. Making veterans a priority by supporting more service dogs for them is not trvial. (Would you demean efforts to get more service dogs to the blind?)

    Your headline was insulting to the vets who need these dogs and to Senator Franken.

    More bias from the media, this we do not need.

    July 20, 2009 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  17. Jackson Beaman

    why doesn't the rich Senator spend his time helping poor people?

    July 20, 2009 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  18. Mike


    This is the part where we accuse you of not supporting our troops. What goes around comes around.

    July 20, 2009 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  19. The black spider

    At least he is thinking about the vets. It's a great start.
    If his coleagues the Republican can also do something like that instead of proposing bills to:
    1) Verify the birth certificate of the presidential candidate
    2) Deny birth right citizenship to immigrants
    3) Promote more crimes through personal assault weapon and owenership of WMD by individuals.
    Jailed all abortion doctors or deny abortion to women but at the same time fight for less goverments in people's life.
    Buch of idiots.

    July 20, 2009 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  20. G Smith

    For the record, I heard Franken speak at a delegate convention. He is an intelligent man with expansive political commentary experience and a degree in political science from Harvard, so check someone's credentials and background before you attack them. BTW both of his children graduated from Ivy Leagues also so my guess is it's not a fluke that he's from an intelligent family...

    July 20, 2009 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  21. Katie B in NC

    What a great idea! I hope there's a provision for having inmates train the dogs - at least in the early phases. There are several established programs that have shown dog training helps to rehabilitate prisoners. It may bring the cost down, too.

    July 20, 2009 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  22. Stuffit

    Nobel initiative? Check. Nice comment about finding it fun working with colleagues whether of the same party or not? Check.

    Government canines provided for vets an essential element of life,liberty and the pursuit of happiness? Not real sure there Al. If the economy were a little more robust, I could maybe live with this one. As it sits, what happens when the vet gets his new puppy? They have to feed and care for it, or is that in the plan too? If so, I'd like a few bucks for my dogs. I'm a vet and have four. Maybe while you're at it, I could get some dough for feeding my chickens and goats.

    Simpler solution, if the vet wants a dog, perhaps a generous veterinarian in his area could provide spay/neuter services at a highly discounted rate and the local pound could provide the pup. I'm certain a local trainer could provide services at less than 25K, maybe a voucher for the vet to get lower priced services from the trainer as a part of this bill. What happens next is that a veteran's dog will attack them, and then we'll need government to form a new agency to ensure the dog is trained to the stringent standard only meted out by government. Final cost 8.2 million per pet.

    July 20, 2009 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  23. Mike

    Om I'm sorry Republicans! Sorry it's NOT some Earth-Shattering headlines like hes cheating on his wife..........oh..wait a minute we'll save those headlines for Republicans....... Right on AL!! i think that is one the best initiatives put forth regarding vets and their rehabilitation back into American life.. And shame on those who put it down...

    July 20, 2009 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  24. Alex

    Franken really can't win, can he? If he does something small like this, the GOP will call him small-minded. If he were to have started with something lofty, he would have been called too big for his britches. Just let the guy do his job!

    July 20, 2009 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  25. Dave

    The world is a better place for Al Franken. Keep the Democracy comin' Al.

    July 20, 2009 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13