As of August 25, 2013, the mission for Alaska Assistance Dogs (AAD) was changed by the Board of Directors to read: “This corporation is organized to engage in charitable and educational activities connected to service dogs for Alaskans with special needs, and specifically to assist individuals interested in obtaining a service dog by providing advice, counsel and referral to professionally-trained service dog trainers.” Carole Shay, founder, AAD professional trainer and program therapist, retired from taking on new service dog teams on December 31, 2013. Under the new mission statement, Carole assists potential teams to understand the commitment, training and benefits of having a service dog. Therapeutic dog programs continue and information and referrals are basic to the new mission.
A major focus for AAD from 2015 forward is canine therapeutic programs. This community program takes service trained dogs, usually Golden Retrievers, to nonprofits and school programs specializing in children and teens with mental health issues. AAD uses the dogs in a therapeutic capacity to build self-esteem, self-confidence and to teach healthy loving, hugging and touching.