FULTON – At a recent Fulton Sunrise Rotary meeting, Rotarian Patrick Waite introduced Martha Sturtz and her Adirondack Golden Retriever, Princess Fire Fly aka Flyer the therapy dog.
Sturtz is a certified evaluator with PAWS (Pet Assisted Wellness Services) of CNY.
Flyer was originally Sturtz’s own therapy dog as she battled cancer.
As a pup, Flyer was trained as a hunting dog, which makes her a good
therapy dog because she was taught not to bark.
PAWS started as a Sunshine Friends organization incorporating in 1999.
They are a non-profit organization run by volunteers.
Their name was changed to
PAWS of CNY, Inc., in 2013 and their mission is to provide pet-assisted
wellness services to hospitals, nursing homes, schools, colleges, libraries,
airport travelers and community partners in Onondaga, Oswego, Cortland, Madison and Cayuga counties.
They welcome community members to apply for pet therapy certification by completing a volunteer application, passing an initial evaluation, and completing a facility evaluation over the course of three months.
They offer Therapy Dog Training classes to help prepare dogs to pass the evaluation.
They are in need of more certified cats.
To become a certified therapy dog, the animal must not bark or jump and must be able to walk past a treat.
They also must like people and attention, which is why rescue
animals make good therapy animals.
Flyer continues to score high in all
Their largest expense is insurance and there is a biennial $100 membership fee for certified pets.
They currently have 120 members and 80 certified pets throughout the five-county CNY region.
Sturtz started with the organization in 2011.
PAWS only certifies dogs and cats
When the vests are on the animals are working.
Becoming certified is great therapy for the handlers as well as the residents they visit.
It is a very rewarding experience, bringing smiles to others.
The Fulton Sunrise Rotary meets every Friday at 7 a.m. at Mimi’s.