Research shows that individuals who interact with dogs experience greater health benefits such as lower heart and blood pressure rates. The Center, in collaboration with the paws4people foundation in Wilmington, N.C. and North Carolina Vocational Rehabilitation, has created a dog-training therapy program UNC PAWS, (peer-assisted wellness services) at The Farm at Penny Lane Farm in Pittsboro, N.C. for individuals with severe mental illness. Clients from Center clinics are given priority for program participation. The training programs use paws4people guidelines.
Shelter to Pet
Individuals with severe mental illness receive specialized training and, subsequently, train dogs that will be available for adoption at the end of the 12-week session. The program works with local shelters (Chatham Country) to select dogs for the program.
Benefits for patients/clients working with and training these dogs include: Learning responsibility; improving self-confidence; experiencing empathy, sense of accomplishment, and achieving marketable job skills.
At the puppy development center, clients/patients from UNC and other community volunteers interact with puppies to provide socialization as the first stage of preparing them to be service dogs.
During the 10- week stay at Penny Lane, the puppies visit schools, hospitals, retirement homes and other community venues,which contributes to their training goals.Their overall socialization training includes: Sensitization, Confidence building, and Problem solving.
Following training, the puppies will go to a women's correctional facility in West Virginia, where inmates will provide training for the puppies to become service dogs that will be matched to veterans.
For information contact: Sunny Westerman
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