Menlo Park

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.

5550 Oberlin Drive Suite B San Diego CA 92121-1738

Helpful Links

Our Team


  • Sandra Brooner – Therapeutic Instructor
  • Ellen Fisher – Therapeutic Instructor


Past and present volunteers make this program happen. Without their tireless efforts we couldn’t accomplish our mission.


  • 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 – Launched Puppy Petting program at the Menlo Park VA.
  • 2016 – Hired a second program instructor to help grow our Menlo Park operation.
  • 2017 – Commenced canine assisted therapy for Intensive Outpatient (IO) program patients.


  • Timmy — Labrador, Black, Male, Birthday: 7/15/15, Find him at #PPHTimmy
  • Rae — ¾ Labrador, ¼ Golden Retriever, Black, Female/Spayed, Birthday: January, 26, 2015, Find her at #PPHRae
  • Ozzy — Golden Retriever, Blonde, 8 months, Male, Birthday: April 19, 2017, Find him at #PPHOzzy
We provide canine assisted therapy sessions to Warriors with PTSD and/or TBI in partnership with the VA Palo Alto Healthcare System (VAPAHCS).

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
There are two Warrior trainers per dog.
Working with organizations such as the VA’s National Center for PTSD.

Caring Spirits, Serving Warriors

We Need Your Support

Donation to Paws for Purple Hearts can change a warrior’s vision of life from hopelessness to optimism through the loving eyes of a faithful companion.

Your generous, tax-deductible donation to Paws for Purple Hearts will improve the lives of thousands of warriors facing the visible and invisible wounds of warfare and service. You will be restoring their independence and allowing these warriors to reintegrate into society in the nation they so bravely volunteered to defend.


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.

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 $33,000 to raise just one dog to this high standard.

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