Paws & Pals uses the healing power of therapy dogs and mentoring so that children and teens struggling with mental illness acquire the coping skills necessary to live positive and productive lives.
In 2013, Tonia Haakonstad founded the 501C(3) Non-for-Profit, Wishes with Wings. Wishes With Wings has impacted the lives of more than 6,000 children and teens living in our local homeless, domestic violence, residential and addiction recovery shelter/homes. Wishes with Wings creates life transforming experiences and memories for children and teens impacted by poverty, abuse, neglect, addiction, and mental illness. While it started as a passion project to grant birthday wishes, it’s evolved into a leadership program that encourages and inspires children and teens to follow their dreams. Over the years, we have developed partnerships with some of the highest regarded facilities and school districts in our communities and have been blessed to have support from our community leaders and businesses.
Tonia has watched for years, as her own family, and 100’s of families she has dedicated her life too, struggle with the heartbreaking reality that addiction, suicide, grief, divorce, ocd, eating disorders and mental health issues are destroying every bit of their happiness and hope. But there was one thing that always got Tonia through her darkest times, and that was the unconditional love and comfort of her beloved dogs. The healing she experienced from her dogs, led her to spend hours researching how human-animal therapy works and heals. The evidence and need is overwhelming and the reason Tonia made the life changing decision to create and open the unique one-of-a-kind facility, Paws & Pals.
Paws & Pals was founded and opened in 2021, as the first and only therapy dog and mentoring facility built around the all- inclusive community center “The DAWG Pound”. Paws & Pals is dedicated to healing our children and teens and “Changing Lives One PAW at a Time”.
How we make a difference.
Paws & Pals is a one-of-a-kind 501(C)3 Non-for-Profit, developed with the mission to help children and teens overcome and heal from mental health and life struggles, with the healing bond of therapy dogs & mentors.
Mental health affects 1 in every 5 children and teens in our country and has increased 25% during Covid. If we ALL don’t do something soon, this generation will be stifled by depression, anxiety, OCD, addiction and numerous other mental health issues that shatter lives.
Paws & Pals is a therapy dog and mentoring program created to change the face of mental health, one PAW at a time. Our facility is a safe place for youth (ages 5-20), to open up about there struggles and find help and healing. Paws & Pals aims to guide young people in a positive direction by offering them a facility and “village” anchored by the compassion and comfort of a therapy dog and the caring heart of a mentor.