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PAWS of CNY, Inc. (formerly Sunshine Friends, Inc.) provides pet-assisted wellness services to hospitals, nursing homes, schools, colleges and universities, libraries, airport travelers, and community partners in Onondaga, Oswego, Cortland, Madison, and Cayuga Counties. We welcome members of the community with domesticated, well-mannered, and well-behaved dogs and cats to apply for pet therapy certification. Certified teams may participate in our pet therapy programs and visit members of the community in need of comfort during assigned visits.
Three volunteers founded Sunshine Friends in 1998. At that time a total of 10 volunteers were visiting with the newly formed organization at 4 different facilities in Syracuse. In February of 1999 Sunshine Friends became Sunshine Friends Incorporated and later gained status as a charitable, not-for-profit organization.
2000 was a year of expansion. Sunshine Friends volunteers were accepted into University Hospital in Syracuse as the sole providers of animal assisted activities in the Pediatric and Psychiatric Departments. Sunshine Friends also began providing animal assisted therapy to the hospital’s Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Department. In addition to the hospital programs, Sunshine Friends gained many new volunteers which enabled the organization to expand services to even more assisted-living facilities in Central New York.
In January of 2004, Sunshine Friends, Inc. implemented the SFI Pet Therapy Certification, an extensive evaluation and education procedure specific to our therapeutic pet programs.
In 2013, Sunshine Friends, Inc. changed the name of their organization to PAWS of CNY, Inc. to more accurately describe the expanded role of the organization as a provider of Pet Assisted Wellness Services throughout Central New York.