Paws for Purple Hearts Team Alaska
Serving the Northwest Region since 2015
The Paws for Purple Hearts (PPH) Northwest Region team is based 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 Anchorage area is home to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson (aka “JBER”) which was formed in 2010 through the merger of Elmendorf Air Force Base and Fort Richardson.
We’ve been in operation serving Alaska’s Warriors since 2015. In 2016 we opened a facility in Fairbanks. In 2019 we relocated to Anchorage. It is an honor and a privilege to provide our Canine-Assisted Warrior Therapy® to our beloved Warriors. Our innovative therapy programs reach Veterans and Active Duty Service Members at the Chris Kyle Patriots Hospital and the VA Domiciliary in Anchorage. More programs are in development. Stay tuned for more exciting updates!
Beyond Alaska, we support and assist dog recipients throughout our region (serving Washington, Oregon, Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming) to ensure a successful lifelong partnership when we provide a service dog, facility dog or specialist therapy dog.
- Debbie Zastrow, Program Instructor
Debbie manages dog health/wellness and trains service dogs. She has been a staff member since 2018 after graduating from Bergin College of Canine Studies.
- Melissa Kitko, Program Instructor
Melissa manages dog health/wellness and trains service dogs. She has been a staff member since 2019 after graduating from Bergin College of Canine Studies.
- Samantha Reside, Advancement Associate
Samantha manages our volunteers, fundraisers and social media platforms at Paws for Purple Hearts in Alaska. She has been a staff member since December 2021 after retiring from her career in Broadcast Journalism. Samantha came to Alaska with her husband who is an officer in the USAF, stationed at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. In her free time, Samantha loves exploring the Alaskan outdoors with her husband and their dog, Maya. To invite Paws for Purple Hearts Alaska to your event or to make a donation to the Northwest Region, contact Samantha at [email protected].
To see pictures of the important work (and adventurous lives) of our service-dogs-in-training, check out our Facebook.
- 2016 Started canine assisted therapeutic intervention programs; Opened dedicated facility in Fairbanks
- 2017 Started canine-assisted therapy program at the Mission; Started canine-assisted therapy program at Fairbanks Correctional Center; First Northwest Region Service Dog Graduation
- 2018 Started Canine-Assisted Therapy in Anchorage.
- 2019 Relocated operations to Anchorage
- 2021 Opened new facility in Anchorage
Chris Kyle Patriots Hospital
Weekly therapy sessions. Chris Kyle Patriots Hospital is an intensive, holistic treatment program dedicated to first responders, military Service Members and Veterans needing treatment for addiction and/or PTSD, and Service Member dependents for addiction.
Alaska VA Domiciliary Care for Homeless Veterans (DCHV) Program
Weekly therapy sessions at the VA Dom. The Dom Offers a structured setting that includes residential care for sheltered and unsheltered Veterans with multiple challenges, illnesses or rehabilitative care needs.
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 (PTSD or 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.