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Carolina Puppies Unite People serves canine, UNC community


UNC junior Evan Johnson (left), senior Madeline Sussman, sophomore Abby Behringer, sophomore Caroline Smith and junior Kennadi Bernard (right) are executive members of Carolina Puppies Unite People. They pose with Lucia,. one of the many dogs that socialize with students on campus, at Polk Place on Tuesday, April 11, 2023. 

UNC students are frequently graced with the sights and cuddles of puppies throughout campus. One of the organizations to thank for this is Carolina Puppies Unite People, also known as CPUP and Puppies at Carolina. 

Lucia, one of the various dogs that visit campus with Carolina Puppies Unite People, hangs out in front of Wilson Library on Tuesday, April 11, 2023.

This organization hosts numerous events each month to work with local shelters and service dog organizations to fundraise and increase interest in dog adoption. So far this semester, CPUP has raised nearly $1,000. 

The club often brings dogs to campus so that they can socialize with students. This is particularly helpful for service dogs, as they need socialization to help them remain calm in large groups of people, Ashley Behringer, a sophomore and CPUP’s community outreach chair, said.

UNC senior Madeline Sussman (left), sophomore Abby Behringer (center left), sophomore Caroline Smith (center right) and junior Kennadi Bernard (right) pet Lucia at Polk Place on Tuesday, April 11, 2023. The students are executive members of Carolina Puppies Unite People.

But the organization also hopes to benefit students with the visits.

“We try to focus on bringing puppies to campus to help out the organizations, but also to target our students because mental health is a severe problem and trying to bring these very cheerful pups to campus is super useful,” Behringer said. 

At a meeting last week, club member Elizabeth O’Melia, brought a puppy from Eyes, Ears, Nose and Paws, an organization in Chapel Hill and Carrboro that trains as well as supports mobility assistance and medical alert dogs. The puppy was able to showcase his skills, such as picking up a credit card. 

O’Melia, who has worked closely with EENP as a dog trainer volunteer for seven years, said that she joined CPUP because she wanted to continue being involved in helping dogs when she got to college. 

“I really understand the value of bringing the dogs to campus to interact with UNC students,” she said.

CPUP collaborated with CrisisDogsNC, an organization that helps rescue and foster dogs in the Carolinas, to attend Kenan-Flagler Day, which was the business school’s annual giving day late last month. The two organizations set up a table where attendees could meet the foster puppies and learn about CrisisDogsNC in hopes of finding students who were interested in fostering the dogs. 

“These animals have not always seen the greatest amount of love that they can. And, so bringing them to campus shows them that huge amount of love that they deserve and also spreads the word so they can find their home,” Behringer said.

Judith Texier, the founder of CrisisDogsNC, said that she learned that North Carolina had one of the highest kill rates among dog shelters in the country when she first moved to the state. Texier's founded the organization after her friend offered to fund her effort in finding homes for seven dogs that needed rescuing in Robeson County. 

Since then, her network has expanded throughout shelters in the Carolinas. Last year, the nonprofit was able to save 534 dogs, and this year, it expects to save about 700 dogs. 

Texier said that the kill rates have recently increased again because shelters are overloaded with dogs due to the effects of pandemic-related adoption returns. Due to this urgent matter, CrisisDogsNC works at a very fast pace and needs all the help it can get to help dogs, she said. 

Those interested in applying to foster dogs should visit CrisisDogNC’s website. The organization provides all necessary resources, such as food, medication and crates for those fostering. Most fosters last about four to eight weeks. 

“We love to have students foster for us because then you get the benefit of having a dog without the expense and the lifetime commitment,” Texier said. 

CPUP will be hosting a “Movie Night with Pups and Popcorn” on April 26 at 6 p.m on Polk Place.

UNC junior Evan Johnson (left) and senior Madeline Sussman (center), the event coordinator and president of Carolina Puppies Unite People, respectively, pet Lucia at Polk Place on Tuesday, April 11, 2023. 

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