UNC PAWS (Peer Assisted Wellness Support)

A dog-training therapy program (Shelter to Pet) for patients/clients with severe mental illness who learn to train and then prepare shelter dogs for adoption.

The Center, in collaboration with the paws4people foundation in Wilmington, N.C. and the  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.

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.

UNC PAWS  works with local shelters and rescue organizations to select dogs for the program.

Benefits for patients/clients working with and training these dogs include:

  • learn or experience responsibility
  • improved self-confidence
  • empathy
  • sense of accomplishment
  • marketable job skills

Dogs from the first training have been adopted!  The next training session starts soon.

For information about adoption, contact: or

    For  additional program information contact :

    :thava@unc.edu