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UNC PAWS is an innovative community-based recovery and rehabilitation program that uses non- traditional interventions to assist individuals living with psychiatric disabilities, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression and post-traumatic stress. PAWS began as a shelter-to-pet recovery program at the Farm at Penny Lane Campus in Pittsboro, N.C in 2014. Clients from the UNC Center of Excellence in Community Health trained shelter dogs in performing basic obedience skills, with dogs ultimately being placed in forever homes.

In 2015, in collaboration with a service dog training organization, UNC PAWS clients and other community volunteers began socializing service dog puppies-in training, visiting retirement communities, schools and nursing homes as well as other venues, to provide exposure to novel experiences and to interact with community members.In late 2016, UNC PAWS launched an emotional support dog program, through which Center clients teach basic obedience skills to rescued dogs to ultimately be placed with individuals with disabilities as well-trained companions.

To volunteer or recieve more information please contact Sunny Westerman, Program Coordinator

For additional program information, contact:
Program Coordinator Sunny Westerman, or Operations Director Thava Mahadevan