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San Francisco Bay Area

Based at the VA facility in Menlo Park, California

About Us

We provide canine assisted therapy sessions to Warriors with PTSD and/or TBI in partnership with the VA Palo Alto Healthcare System (VAPAHCS).  During this therapy, we teach the Warriors to help train our service dogs for fellow Warriors with a disability.  The service dogs we train in this program will be placed with Warriors facing challenges such as mobility impairments, PTSD and TBI.  We start training and socializing our dogs at the VA when they are as young as two weeks old. Our dogs go home with Puppy Parents on the weekend to help them acclimate to the local environment and community, and build their socialization skills. This helps make them better service dogs when they are ready to be assigned permanently to Warriors.

We work together with our local community to help spread the word about the important work we do with Warriors, and to seek financial and volunteer support for that life-changing work.  Our wonderful volunteers help train our dogs and perform many other tasks that help us accomplish our mission and we are very grateful to them!

Our site is unique in that our dogs stay and live with the Warriors that help us train them while they are in a residential treatment program. There are two Warrior trainers per dog.  This helps to simulate co-parenting, and is beneficial to the Warriors and the dogs alike. We also provide dogs to support cutting edge research by organizations such as the VA’s National Center for PTSD.

California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico 5550 Oberlin Drive Suite B San Diego CA 92121-1738

San Francisco Bay Area

  • 795 Willow Road, Bldg 400, Menlo Park, California 94025
  • (650) 684-7244

Helpful Links

Please Note: At this time, the only Volunteer roles available with our Menlo Park, CA team are Puppy Petter, Puppy Raiser, Puppy Sitter.

Our Team


  • Megan, Program Instructor
    Megan joined Paws for Purple Hearts in 2019 as an Advancement Associate, after seeing the amazing impact Service Dogs have on Veterans she decided to pursue her passion and become a Program Instructor. Megan manages the Bay Area programs, provides Canine-Assisted Warrior Therapy® sessions, and trains Service Dogs. With the help of #pphSchatzie, PPH Bay Area Ambassador Dog, she also works to spread awareness of our mission of helping Warriors.
  • CJ, Marketing and Communications Specialist
    CJ is the Marketing and Communications Specialist for our Menlo Park location. After graduating from UC Santa Barbara in 2023 he joined our team and manages volunteers, fundraising and outreach for the Bay Area site. To invite Paws for Purple Hearts Bay Area to your event, make a donation or if you have general inquiries, please contact CJ at [email protected]
  • Mary Kate, Program Instructor
    Mary Kate joined the PPH team as a program instructor in June 2023. After graduating from Penn State University with a degree in Human Development and Family Studies, Mary Kate decided to pursue her dream job of becoming a service dog trainer to combine her passions of helping others and working with dogs. She graduated from Bergin College of Canine Studies with a degree in Assistance Dog Education and now trains service dogs and manages both the puppy parent program and dog health program at the Menlo Park site. Mary Kate loves coming to work every day to bring joy to our nation’s warriors, with help from four paws and a wagging tail.


  • 2008 – Launched the first therapeutic canine intervention program at VAPAHCS.
  • 2011 – Webb graduates as the first Facility Dog at the VA.
  • 2012 – Started canine assisted therapy in the Women’s Trauma Recovery Program (WTRP).
  • 2013 – VA opens the Welcome Center building with a K9 Corner.
  • 2013 – Commenced canine assisted therapy for Intensive Outpatient (IO) program patients
  • 2018 – Timmy graduated to become the facility dog at the Women’s Trauma Recovery Program (WTRP)
  • 2018 – Started CAWT® at the San Francisco VA, helping Veterans in the PTSD Outpatient Clinic
  • 2020 – Ralph graduated as Facility Dog at the San Jose VA Clinic
  • 2020 – During the pandemic, we started weekly window visits with Veterans in the Community Living Center


To see pictures of the important work (and adventurous lives) of our service-dogs-in-training, check out our Facebook Page.
We start training and socializing our dogs at the VA when they are as young as two weeks old.

Our Partners

National Center for PTSD

  • The VA National Center for PTSD is dedicated to research and education on trauma and PTSD. They work to assure that the latest research findings help those exposed to trauma.  We have helped their research by providing dogs for studies examining the effects of canine companionship on Veterans who are recovering from exposure to trauma.

VA Palo Alto VA Health Care System

  • We have been working in solid partnership with the VAPAHCS for 10 years to help heal Warriors with PTSD and/or TBI.  The canine assisted therapy method was pioneered and put into practice for the first time right here on the VA’s Menlo Park campus. Patients here immediately responded to the idea of instructing the dogs as a form of therapy for themselves and reported reduced symptoms of PTSD and TBI.  They also reported feeling a greater sense of purpose knowing they had a new mission to help a comrade by directly participating in the preparation and training of a top-grade service dog for them.  The VA provides a space for our dogs to provide therapy, train and exercise at the VA Menlo Park Welcome Center
  • San Francisco VA Medical Center (SFVAMC)
    We provide Canine Assisted Warrior Therapy®, social therapy to patients in a variety of groups and programs including the PTSD Outpatient Clinic.
  • San Jose VA Clinic
    We provide social therapy and informal sessions to patients in a variety of groups and programs.
There are two Warrior trainers per dog.
Working with organizations such as the VA’s National Center for PTSD.
Launched the first therapeutic canine intervention program at VAPACHS with the Men’s Trauma and Recovery Program (MTRP)

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, 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.


We place facility dogs with facility managers who work in care facilities that serve Service Members, Veterans, and/or military families. They are also placed with counselors, psychologists, psychiatrists, occupational therapists (and other specialists) who serve Service Members and/or Veterans and wish to integrate a dog into their clients’ treatment plans. Facility dogs provide invaluable benefits to the populations they serve, but they do not meet the legal definition of a service dog and do not have public access rights outside of their assigned facility. Facilities must serve at least 50% of military-connected individuals.

Our Long History

Paws for Purple Hearts is the first program of its kind to offer therapeutic intervention for Veterans and active-duty military.

Therapeutic Intervention

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.

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