Norman Y. Mineta San José International Airport (SJC) has begun hosting service dog training for Paws for Purple Hearts (PPH), a program in which trained service dogs are placed with war veterans and warriors who have mobility impairments or trauma-related conditions, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Part of the PPH training this year includes familiarizing the service dogs with an airport environment.  The training allows the service dogs to experience the “lay of the land” of an airport, preparing them to better assist with navigation of a large space and crowds, completing the screening process and arriving safely at the gate.

“We are honored to work with Paws for Purple Hearts to provide support in training these incredible service dogs to navigate their way through our airport,” said John Aitken, SJC director of aviation. “We are always looking for ways to improve the travel experience for our customers, and this effort reflects our commitment to all passengers to provide a safe, healthy and reliable travel experience.”

PPH began in 2006 as a research program at the Bergin University of Canine Studies in collaboration with the Menlo Park Veterans Administration Medical Center, which then evolved into numerous locations nationwide. Since 2016, PPH has deployed 128 dogs for canine-assisted therapy programs.