Paws for Purple Hearts Team Alaska
Serving the Northwest Region since 2015
The Paws for Purple Hearts (PPH) team in Alaska operates in a unique location. Alaska has more Veterans per capita than any other state. Alaska is home to over 70,000 Veterans and approximately 20,000 active duty Service Members, comprising a significant population of potential service dog recipients and canine assisted therapy participants. The Fairbanks area is home to Fort Wainwright , Eielson Air Force Base, Clear Air Force Base, and Fort Greely. To the south of us, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson is located in Anchorage.
We’ve been in operation since 2015, and celebrated the Grand Opening of our brand new facility in November of 2016. We are located in Fairbanks which has over 8,500 Veterans in and around the city. To be able to provide our service dog training canine assisted therapy (SDTCAT) to America’s Warriors is an honor and a privilege. Our therapy programs reach Veterans and Active Duty Service Members at our local rescue mission, VA, prison and military installations within the state. We are also very active within our local community volunteering and providing numerous volunteering opportunities for schools and business who want to help out. Fairbanks is a place where people realize nothing gets done without the help of the community.
Beyond Fairbanks, and beyond Alaska, we provide support to assistance dog recipients throughout our region to ensure a successful lifelong partnership when we provide a service dog, facility dog or Specialist Therapy Dog.
- Nathan Collin: Northwest Regional Director – Oversees all operations. Instructs and leads canine assisted therapy sessions and trains service dogs
- Betsey Jacobs: Program Coordinator – Manages all service dog programs for the Fairbanks facility, instructs and leads canine assisted therapy sessions and trains service dogs
- Tamara Bell: Program Instructor – Instructs and leads canine assisted therapy sessions and trains service dogs
- Becky Beltran: Advancement Associate – Manages all fundraising opportunities and volunteer program
- Troy Rivers: Puppy Parent and service dog trainer with canine assisted therapy program
- Stephanie Stowman: General Volunteer and service dog trainer with canine assisted therapy program
- Jean Hixon: General Volunteer and dog play facilitator
- September 2016 – Started canine assisted therapeutic intervention programs
- October 2016 – Opened dedicated facility in Fairbanks
- March 2017 – Started canine assisted therapy program at the Mission
- May 2017 – Started canine assisted therapy program at Fairbanks Correctional Center
- December 2017 – First Northwest Region Service Dog Graduation
- August 2018 – Started Canine Assisted Therapy in Anchorage.
- Cheechako – our first red lab. He was born on October 9, 2017. He is a superstar! He loves to take walks and play with the big dogs. Follow him at #pphcheechako
- Doyle– a full english cream golden retriever born on May 13, 2018. She is a sweet cotton ball that loves to be held by people! Her favorite thing right now is playing with Maggie! Follow her at #pphDoyle
- Maggie– a black lab golden retriever mix born on April 25, 2018. She is our most fervent player out of the bunch. If all the other dogs are sleeping, she’s there nudging them with her nose to see if they want to play. Follow her at #pphMaggie
- Ralph– a black lab, golden retriever cross who was born on December 5, 2016. He loves to sit in people’s laps and social therapy is his favorite time of day! Follow him at #pphRalph
- Melik– a yellow lab who was born on August 1, 2018. He loves to play with his big brothers and the snow! Follow him at #pphMelik
Project Healing Waters – We are fortunate to host Project Healing Waters at our facility every other Tuesday. Project Healing Waters is a fly tying and fly fishing program for Warriors. They learn many different techniques for tying, building rods and going on fishing trips together at no cost for the participants. Many of the Warriors in Project Healing Waters also come and participate in our canine assisted therapy sessions. One of them even acted as a simulated client (service dog recipient) during the first client training course conducted in Fairbanks in December, 2017. Our service dogs accompany the Warriors during fly tying, providing social therapy, and learning additional socialization skills.
Arctic Light Elementary School– Ourdogs provide social therapy each week to the students in the behavioral program at Arctic Light Elementary School on Fort Wainwright. The students, all children of active duty Service Members, earn the opportunity to work with the dogs to reinforce positive behaviors. Our dogs benefit from this experience as they gain more familiarity and experience with children.
Fairbanks Rescue Mission – Every Friday we provide canine assisted therapy at Fairbanks Rescue Mission, working with Veterans experiencing homelessness. The Veterans have gotten to work with each dog and we often get requests for specific pups to bring in on Fridays. The Veterans have gathered dog toys and a dog bed, putting together a “dog corner” for our visits. Bringing the dogs to the Rescue Mission every week is great socialization for our service dogs in training. They get to work with many different men on everyday tasks.
Fairbanks Correctional Center – Twice a month we provide canine assisted therapy to Veterans who are incarcerated at the Fairbanks Correctional Center. During this time, the dogs provide a much-needed break to inmates and a breath of fresh air. The Veterans use this time to learn new skills as well as play with the dogs.
Street Outreach Advocacy Program (SOAP) – On Wednesdays, our service dogs-in-training visit with young adults and children at the Fairbanks Native Association Street Outreach Advocacy Program (SOAP). Here the dogs provide social therapy to youth experiencing homelessness in Fairbanks. This is a great socialization training opportunity for our puppies and dogs. We familiarize them with different settings and contexts so they can become rock-solid service dogs ready for all environments.
Caring Spirits, Serving Warriors
We Need Your Support
Donations to Paws for Purple Hearts can change a warrior’s life from hopelessness to optimism.
Your generous, tax-deductible donation helps thousands of warriors facing the visible and invisible wounds of war. Our Canine-Assisted Warrior Therapy helps them heal as they help others – all with the goal of raising top tier service dogs for veterans and active duty service members with mobility and trauma challenges.
We place service dogs with service members and veterans facing challenges such as:
– Mobility issues. Our dogs can help with tasks such as: retrieving items, pushing buttons for elevators and doors, turning lights on/off, bracing to help move from/to wheel-chairs or to navigate stairs, plus many more.
– Diagnosed trauma-related conditions such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Our dogs help by performing a variety of tasks specifically designed to reduce symptom severity.
Through our thorough application process, our qualified staff determines if a PPH service dog will be a fit for your specific needs.
Paws for Purple Hearts is the first program of its kind to offer therapeutic intervention for Veterans and active-duty military.
Under the guidance of PPH instructors, service members engage with specially-bred Golden Retriever and Labrador puppies.
PTSD patient-trainers must overcome their emotional and affective numbness in order to heighten their tone of voice, bodily movements.
Donation Dollars at Work
With just $19/month gift you will ensure a future service dog has all of its vaccinations, training equipment, and of course toys to get started in their life altering education.
Your gift of any amount will be a tremendous help to our Service Dogs in Training. It costs $52/month in dog food alone for just one dog.
Paws for Purple Hearts Dogs are trained to the most exacting certification because our veterans deserve the best, and thanks to you, they will never have to pay for any of our services. It costs more than $35,000 to raise just one dog to this high standard.