SAN DIEGO TEAM
Headquarters for the PPH Southwest Region
Our Southwest Region is headquartered in San Diego, CA, famous for its vibrant military community. The perfect location for Paws for Purple Hearts (PPH), it is home to Naval Base San Diego, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, plus several additional military facilities and famous museums celebrating military history like the USS Midway aircraft carrier museum.
We’ve been in operation since 2016, and celebrated the Grand Opening of our newly renovated facility in April of 2018. Our location started in the home of two of our trainers with just two dogs, and has since transformed into a bustling site in Sorrento Valley. We are proud to provide Canine-Assisted Warrior Therapy® (CAWT), which can help reduce the symptoms of PTSD and TBI through structured, positive interaction with our service dogs in training. We provide this life-changing therapy to Veterans and Active Duty Service Members in San Diego and Los Angeles area VA facilities. We also visit several local private Veteran service organization facilities where our wonderful dogs provide social therapy to Warriors on the road to recovery.
- Kerry Blum, Regional Director
Kerry is the regional director of the southwest region where she oversees operations at the facility, handles public relations, and manages fundraising and donor relations. She has developed incredible connections and experience in the San Diego area for her entire life. She graduated from San Diego State University and her extensive background in the hospitality industry, marketing, and nonprofit management has made her a key asset to the team here.
- Tamara Bell, Senior Program Instructor
Tamara manages puppy parents and trains service dogs. She has been a staff member since May 2015 after graduating from California State University Channel Islands and completing the Service Dog Summer Seminar with Bergin University of Canine Studies. In her free time, Tamara enjoys spending time with her pet dog Ginger and visiting the beach to enjoy her paddleboard.
- Selah Marting, Senior Program Instructor
Selah manages our dog health/wellness and trains service dogs. She has been a staff member since June 2016 after graduating from Bergin University of Canine Studies. In Selah’s free time she enjoys running, doing puzzles, and being a dog mom to her two adorable dogs.
- Kaitlyn Sacco, Program Instructor
Kaitlyn manages our CAWT® sessions and trains service dogs. She has been a staff member since August 2020 after graduating from Bergin University of Canine Studies. In Kaitlyn’s free time she enjoys spending time with her pet dog Marshall while enjoying a good book or playing video games.
- Katelyn Jones, Administrative Assistant
Katelyn provides the highest level support to the Southwest Regional Director. Assembling facility reports, managing client relations, and in depth knowledge of office management systems, procedures and multiple softwares. She has been a member since early February as she transitions out of the military and attends college to be a Veterinary Technician helping her towards her goal to become a Veterinarian. In her free time, Katelyn enjoys spending her time reading a good book and visiting the beach.
- Greg DeSantis, Advancement Associate
Greg is the Advancement Associate at our San Diego, California location. There he manages our volunteers and fundraises for Paws for Purple Hearts. He has been a staff member since July 2022 after graduating from the University of Kansas. To invite Paws For Purple Hearts San Diego to your event or to make a donation to the Southwest Region, contact Greg at [email protected].
Connect with us
For updates on events and to see pictures of our service-dogs-in-training, check out our Facebook and Instagram.
- 2016: Commenced operations in Southern California.
- 2017: Began CAWT programs at Long Beach VA and San Diego VA, and began social therapy program at Veterans Village of San Diego.
- 2018: Opened state of the art facility; commenced CAWT at Wounded Warrior Battalion – West, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, CA.
- 2019: Started Warrior pet dog obedience training and adopted two guinea pigs to join the team as part of the training experience for the dogs.
- 2020: During the COVID pandemic, conducted Facebook Live to interact with the Warriors.
- 2021: Hosted our first Service Dog Graduation; #pphDrew, trained by Selah, was placed as a Service Dog; began CAWT program at Veterans Justice Outreach in Orange County.
VA Long Beach Healthcare System
- We provide Canine-Assisted Warrior Therapy® sessions to several groups of Veteran participants at our facility in partnership with VA staff.
VA San Diego Healthcare System
- We provide Canine-Assisted Warrior Therapy® sessions to Veterans in an inpatient mental health unit to help reduce stress and promote healing.
Veterans Justice Outreach in Orange County
- We provide Canine-Assisted Warrior Therapy® sessions to Veterans at the justice outreach center that was donated by American Legion Riders to provide assistance to Veterans in need.
Vi at La Jolla Village Retirement Community
- We conduct social therapy with Veterans living in the center and in hospice to reduce stress and provide comfort to Warriors there.
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.