EVERGLADES CITY, Fla. — The Department of Veterans Affairs is scheduled to release a study evaluating the use of large sharks as therapy animals, and the official outcome is "inconclusive" regarding their effectiveness supporting veterans emotionally and physically, sources say.
The results are disappointing for the VA, which is eager to regain the trust of veterans after nearly a decade of scandal, incompetence, and mismanagement. They reportedly researched several obscure "avant garde" therapies and, as VA spokesman Randall Noller confirmed, officials are "leaving no stone unturned."
"We are exploring all of our options, no matter the cost or possibility of personal injury," said Noller. "Whether it is 'Squids For Squids,' 'Falcons For Blue Falcons,' or 'Seals for SEALS,' honestly, we don't care. Our goal is to show progress, and to keep veterans distracted until we find a way out of the monumental hole we dug for ourselves."
The charity chosen for this particular study, "Great Whites For Warriors," is the only service animal organization that employs Carcharodon carcharias as therapy animals. Helmed by Florida alligator farm entrepreneur and Chief Executive Officer William "Big Willie" Fallgren, the organization seeks to pair qualified veterans with their gentle "sociopaths of the deep."
"Just like our Craigslist ad stated, our primary purpose here at GWFW is healing, and we prioritize that over everything else," said Fallgren, who also recently obtained his Masters of Psychology from Kaplan University. "And I do mean everything, including the animal's dietary needs, living space requirements, and safety."
"We don't need all of that 'red tape' getting in the way of our patented method," added Fallgren.
Study participants, however, had mixed reviews about how much healing actually went on. In fact, a small sample of respondents were split down the middle, especially when left alone, unsupervised, and within striking distance. But those who survived raved at how the therapy, while unorthodox, changed their lives in a positive way.
"I remember when I was just a single amputee, looking for answers," said double amputee retired Staff Sgt. Barry Goodall. He was paired with his therapy shark, Linda, nearly two years ago, after he lost his leg in Afghanistan.
"I'll never forget that feeling I got when I first saw her — eyes rolled back in her head, jaws extended," said Goodall stroking the shark tank with his prosthetic hook. "The love of an apex predator is a special thing, a once in a lifetime encounter."
"To think I went 32 years without knowing this kind of connection. And now," said Goodall, interrupted by the thrashing of the 1,500 pound carnivore in its dangerously undersized tank, "I think I have finally found purpose in my life."
In related news, Goodall was last seen feeding Linda by dangling a fish over her tank by his teeth. If anyone has any news regarding his whereabouts, please contact the Everglades County Sheriff's Department.