by Karen Mead-Elford, co-editor
Sarabay Kennels, LLC/Dr. Paws, Inc. Pet Assisted Therapy held a ribbon cutting ceremony with the Shiawassee Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Farmington Hills Chamber in recognition of the opening of its new location on Thursday, Oct. 10. Sarabay Kennels and Dr. Paws are owned and operated by Theresa Seraceno. She started Dr. Paws as a nonprofit in Farmington Hills over 26 years ago and has also been involved with breeding and showing golden retrievers for 30 years.
Seraceno has received recognition from the state of Michigan for her work with Dr. Paws, a support and networking group for pet therapy dogs. A video on Dr. Paws is available at www.drpaws.org. Dr. Paws has been recognized for testing over 10,000 dogs in relation to therapy work. Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist signed the tribute recently presented to Seraceno.
Not quite two years ago, Seraceno purchased 10 acres on Lovejoy Road in Byron and began the process of building a small, brand new, high-end boarding kennel that would also allow her to continue to evaluate dogs for therapy work at medical facilities. Those plans have come to fruition and Sarabay Kennels and Dr. Paws is now open for business along the southern edge of Shiawassee County.
The facility is immaculate and includes a quiet setting, radiant heated floors, airy kennel suites with transparent dog doors with large fenced-in runs, air conditioning, security and more. Seraceno designed the structure, using professionals, to make it easy for her to keep it pristine, all while accommodating the needs and comfort of the dogs.
“The first patient that said to me, ‘Thank you for coming. You made my day.’ I mean, how awesome is that?” asked Seraceno, discussing her pet assisted therapy work with hospitals and nonprofit groups like the Make-a-Wish Foundation. “The biggest problem I have is with getting volunteers. We have over 500 active members. We always need more volunteers, more dogs.” For interested people, size or breeding are not considered when looking for a quality therapy dog. The personality, mental health and temperament of a dog are factored in through a multi-part testing series.
Talking about the kennel end of her business, Seraceno explained that she knows there are a large number of people that “hire the kid down the street to help sit” their dog when they are gone. She explained that one problem with that arrangement is that the kid is not insured or bonded. At her kennel, with its peaceful country setting, the dogs are never alone, since minimally she and/or her husband are always on the property. She even has a professional grooming table for her canine guests when they arrive so she can look them over, check for cleanliness, ear health and other concerns. Her goal with the check-up is to be sure that the dog that leaves her kennel is every bit as healthy as it was when it arrived – including dog smells – something Seraceno is very conscientious about. “When you spend the amount of time I have at dog shows, you really pick up a lot of stuff,” she said. Sometimes the first portion of the evaluation of a therapy dog will begin on her grooming table if she recognizes that the canine might have the aspects needed for the position.
Working with Byron High School students on utilizing their community service hours, Seraceno also elaborated on how positive that experience has been – allowing her to work with and train the students as a way of giving back to the community. It is apparent Seraceno is a go-getter – and a very busy and dedicated person.
To find out more on Dr. Paws, Inc., please visit www.drpaws.org or for more information on volunteering, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Dr. Paws is part of the Alliance of Therapy Dogs and information on that organization can be found at therapydogs.com or by calling (307) 432-0272.
Sarabay Kennels, LLC/Dr. Paws, Inc. Pet Assisted Therapy is located at 5609 Lovejoy Rd., Byron. The website is www.sarabaygoldens.com. Seraceno’s business can also be found on social media.