Anita Vitullo knows the value and benefit of having animals in our lives. Through her generous donation, Upstate Cerebral Palsy was able to develop the PAWS program: Pets Adding Warmth and Support. PAWS was created to encourage companionship between children and adults with disabilities and household pets, especially dogs and cats.

The first animal that was obtained with the assistance of PAWS was a dog for the children’s residential program. For children living at the Tradewinds Education Center at Upstate Cerebral Palsy, this has been a valuable resource. Staff at the children’s program make every effort to provide personal experiences for the children—experiences that they would have living at home with their families, including owning a pet. Children learn responsibility, as well as knowing that a pet is dependent on us for food, exercise and companionship. However, program costs do not cover the expenses associated with owning and caring for pets. The PAWS program gave these children the opportunity to adopt “Bingo,” a mixed breed puppy that they adore. He has become a member of their family and his value is immeasurable.

Other homes at Upstate Cerebral Palsy have added pets since the fund was established in 2009, including dogs, cats and rabbits. Each experience and new pet proves that Pets really do Add Warmth and Support!

Kathy Hartnett, Vice President, Community Development PAWS program