In Your NeighborhoodDeWitt - St. Johns


Meet Giving Paws, the heartwarming team using dogs to bring comfort, support in St. Johns

Posted at 8:09 PM, Jun 22, 2023
and last updated 2023-06-23 16:23:48-04

ST. JOHNS, Mich. — We all have something that calms us when we feel nervous or anxious, and a group of volunteers in St. Johns at Giving Paws use their dogs to help others in need.

"It could be for a happy event or community event," said Executive Handler Kelly Schafer. "We could be supporting with a tragedy like MSU. It just really depends on what our reason is for being there."

And with a team of volunteers and plenty of dogs, Schafer says they've helped in a variety of ways in the past four years.

"Sophie here is Clinton County's first court dog. And we sit with kiddos when they have to testify in court," said Schafer.

Schafer says Sophie helps to take away the thoughts of being in the courthouse while other volunteers share their time elsewhere.

"We've seen the benefit. We've seen the stressed get relieved, we've seen someone who's very upset, and it just kind of resets for them in that moment," said Schafer.

But the biggest reason these volunteers and their pups share their time is for the community.

"I can say that personally I underestimated that impact," said Schafer. "You know, we hear stories when we're getting ready to do this, and you talk to other dog people and trainers, but until you experience it, it's hard to put that into words."

And I was fortunate enough to experience the joy Sophie shares, while she sat by me and gave me a kiss.

Giving Paws also sells a variety of dog-related products in their store. One item worth noting is the treats that come from another nonprofit.

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Russell Shellberg

5:49 PM, Jun 03, 2022

Your Neighborhood Reporter

Russell Shellberg

FOX 47 News Neighborhood Newsletter