Debbie trains Service dogs and provides canine assisted therapeutic programs to our nations warriors as a Program Instructor with Paws for Purple Hearts. She has developed relationships with Alaska organizations to support Veteran & Military health programs. In addition, she is a Certified NATIONAL Crisis Response Team with her canines Kali & Kenji. Together they have supported many Alaskan’s following crisis to develop resiliency and connect to resources. She is also a NOVA Provisional Advocate supporting survivors of abuse as they navigate the legal system. Her goal is to strengthen communities during critical times, encouraging resilience and recovery for military community and civilian populations.
Professional Affiliations, Licensure's, & Certifications:
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Paws for Purple Hearts is a 501(c)(3) which had its beginnings as a research program with
Bergin College of Canine Studies and Menlo Park Veterans Administration Medical Center. We
are dedicated to improving the lives of America’s Warriors by providing the highest quality
service dogs and canine assisted therapeutic programs to veterans and active-duty.
Paws for Purple Hearts is the only service dog organization partnered with Bergin College of
Canine Studies which provides the best service dog trainers and the highest quality service dogs.
The Anchorage Facility is staffed by Debbie Zastrow Yanagida and Melissa Kitko. They are
graduates of the Bergin Service Dog program and are active handlers & responders with
NATIONAL Crisis Response Canines.
Among America’s warriors, there is high demand for service dogs and for new ways to help
trauma related conditions. We teach those with trauma related conditions to train service dogs
for their comrades which continues the time-honored tradition of Warriors helping Warriors. In
addition, the participants receive therapeutic benefits which can include; less anxiety, decreased
depression, increased emotional regulation, improved sleep, greater sociability and much more.