WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — It was a proud day for some pets and their owners Saturday. paws4people held its graduation ceremony for new service dog teams in Kenan Auditorium at UNCW.
The graduation marks the end of a two-year training process for the dogs. The ceremony welcomed 31 new teams.
Each person who receives a service dog from paws4people also spends up to a year learning how to work with the dogs. The ceremony is a milestone for both the dogs and the recipients.
“So this is our graduation ceremony that we do each year to represent all the hard work that they have done to graduate with their dog. They have been in training for a minimum of six months. So now, it’s just time to celebrate them and all of the great things that they have done together, and all of the things that they will do together,” said Samantha Cleary, with paws4people.
Cleary says the dogs they trained will be placed with children, veterans and special education classrooms.
“So these dogs are life-saving dogs. A lot of our clients have PTSD, TBI. They have mobility disabilities. They’re hard of hearing or deaf. And we are able to train these dogs to help make their lives better and higher quality,” said Cleary.
Cleary says on this day, they also honor the UNCW students who participate in a service training program through the school to help get the dogs ready to graduate.