Soldier faces court martial for bringing service dog to work
Published Friday, December 20, 2013 7:03PM AST
Last Updated Friday, December 20, 2013 8:50PM AST
A New Brunswick-based soldier is facing a court martial for bringing a service dog to work.
Stuart Murray is a military police officer who did two tours in Afghanistan and one in Bosnia.
The 43-year-old suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and has a dog named Vivian to help ease the symptoms. However, Murray has been charged with disobeying a lawful order because he brought Vivian to work against orders.
“This dog is like medicine to him,” says Nova Scotia NDP MP Peter Stoffer. “You certainly wouldn’t refuse someone who is a diabetic from bringing their medicine to work.”
Murray was directed by the military to go to a civilian psychiatrist because of his illness and he was prescribed the service dog.
“It is a service dog. The psychiatrist recommended that this individual have this dog to do his day-to-day chores,” says Stoffer.
Retired Air Force Capt. Medric Cousineau knows Murray and he too suffers from PTSD. He left the military in 1991.
“I had a recurring horrible night terror every morning at 4:30,” he says.
Cousineau, who received Canada’s second highest order for bravery for a rescue at sea, was in a downward spiral for 25 years until August 2012, when he received his own service dog.
“She’s my savior,” he says.
While speaking to CTV News, Cousineau’s service dog, Thai, sat quietly at his feet. In a spontaneous moment, as Cousineau described his illness, Thai detected stress and quickly came to his aid.
“The changes, which started almost immediately, it became very, very clear,” says Cousineau. “I’m getting stressed. She can tell.”
He says there are 150 dogs like Thai and Vivienne working with veterans and active Canadian Forces personnel who bring them to work.
However, Murray is not one of them.
Cousineau says Murray is in a Catch-22 situation in that he has been given two orders that conflict with one another. If he disobeys either one, he could be court martialed.
While Murray has been given a medical prescription to bring the dog to work, he has also been ordered not to bring the dog to work.
“To disobey the MO’s orders, is also a chargeable offence,” says Cousineau.
In a statement late Friday afternoon, the military stated that there are members of the Canadian Armed Forces who require a therapy dog in the workplace, if there is a legitimate requirement and the dog has appropriate certification.
A unit investigation will examine all aspects of the case before it goes to a court martial.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Rick Grant