UNCW Hosts Sixth Annual paws4people Family Reunion

UNCW Hosts Sixth Annual paws4people Family Reunion

On Oct. 6-7, UNCW hosted the Sixth Annual paws4people Family Reunion.

paws4people staff members, volunteers, students, clients and sponsors spent the weekend together, catching up and celebrating the many accomplishments of the nonprofit from the past year.

On Friday evening, guests gathered on the Clock Tower Lawn for Wine & Wags, a meet-and-greet event, where old friends met again and new friends were made as they sat together in glow-stick light.

The main event happened on Saturday. Students and clients competed in Rally, a fun competition to showcase the different commands that paws4people assistance dogs and handlers learn during their training. Participants took turns competing at the Clock Tower Lawn and Amphitheater.

At noon, paws4people Directors, Terry Henry and Cece McConnell, took the stage in the Warwick Center Ballroom to begin the graduation ceremony. paws4people graduated 40 students from the UNCW Assistance Dog Training Program (ADTP). Steve Elliott, interim director of the School of Health and Applied Human Sciences, presented each student with their ADTP Certificate during the ceremony. After the students graduated, the paws4people clients and their assistance dogs walked together.

paws4people graduated a total of 26 Assistance Dog Teams. Ten assistance dogs were placed with veterans, service members, military-related medical treatment providers and military dependents with physical, neurological, psychiatric and/or emotional disabilities through the paws4vets Program. Ten Assistance Dogs were placed with adults, children and adolescents with various physical and psychiatric disabilities. In addition, five facility dogs were placed with professionals for use in their places of work. One Ambassador Dog was placed with a paws4people staff member, Kaylie Miller, a UNCW alum.

The paws4people UNCW Assistance Dog Training Program has been at UNCW since 2011. Since the program’s start, it has grown significantly with now waitlists to get into the first course. The program is the only one of its kind in the country and gives students the opportunity to learn about the importance of assistance dogs and what they can do for those with different types of disabilities.