UNC PAWS (Peer Assisted Wellness Support)
UNC PAWS is an innovative community-based recovery and rehabilitation program that uses non- traditional interventions to assist individuals living with chronic mental health conditions, 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. Patients/clients at the UNC Center of Excellence in Community Health and community volunteers trained shelter dogs for adoption and placed them in forever homes. In 2015, UNC PAWS, in partnership with an organization that trains assistance dogs, began socializing service dog puppies-in training by taking them to visit retirement communities, schools and nursing homes, allowing them to interact with community members.
In late 2016, UNC PAWS began an emotional support dog program to train and facilitate ownership of a trained pet for individual living with a chronic condition that can benefit from the canine companionship. The emotional support dog program is in partnership with a local assistance dog organization that trains dogs at North Carolina correctional facilities.