Paws for Purple Hearts Alaska celebrates first service dog graduation

FAIRBANKS, Alaska - Paws for Purple Hearts Alaska opened their doors last November, and today got to celebrate their very first dog and handler graduation.
It takes two and a half years to train the service dogs which is why there was only one graduate today, but Program Coordinator for Paws for Purple Hearts Alaska, Betsey Jacobs, is hoping there will be more graduates next year.
The dogs are trained to help veterans who may be suffering the effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or other traumatic mental and physical injuries.
Some of the tasks the dogs are trained to perform include, retrieving medication, turning lights on and off, opening doors, and providing pressure therapy if their handler is having a P-T-S-D triggered episode.

Betsey Jacobs; Program Coordinator at Paws for Purple Hearts Alaska >> "We have what we call the 'Social Styles Survey', and it is a questionnaire of about 15 questions about the personality of the veteran who is on the waiting list to receive a dog, and the veteran gives that questionnaire to six people that are very familiar with that veteran in different capacities; like a family member or a coworker or their child, 6 people fill it out about the veteran. And then each dog that is available for graduation, the trainers that have worked with that dog are provided with that same questionnaire. They answer that questionnaire about the dog. And so we match veteran with dog based on the answer to the social styles survey questionnaire."

For more information on Paw for Purple Hearts Alaska, you can visit their website at
pawsforpurpleheart.org