CONWAY — Assistance Canine Training Services will celebrate the graduation of three teams on Sunday, May 6, at 2 p.m., in an open ceremony at the Brown Church in Conway.

ACTS is a non-profit North Conway based organization that trains service dogs for people with physical disabilities and facility therapy dogs for professions working in fields that benefit from animal assisted therapy.

This year, ACTS is graduating one service dog and one facility therapy dog. In addition to these two dogs, the organization is celebrating one of its dogs that moved on from its training as a service dog to MSA Security in New York to be trained as an explosive detection canine.

Mark Lawton of Tamworth will be graduating with his new service dog Baxter. Lawton is a former graduate, who is receiving his second dog from ACTS. A veteran, Lawton suffers from hearing loss and from severe back pain. Baxter will help him with stability and will also assist him in picking things up. Baxter is a standard poodle donated by Darlene Marquette. He was trained by Trina Havey of Somerville, Maine, and Amy Meier of Ossipee.

Katie Myers works at an addiction treatment facility in Georgia. Myers works with both staff and patients. Her new facility therapy dog, Breezy, will be working in both group and individual counseling sessions and with the staff. Animal-assisted therapy has been shown to have a positive effect on a persons’ mental health and recovery. Myers will have Breezy at work daily, and when she is not working with patients herself, Breezy will be available for other staffers to use in their therapy sessions. Breezy is a golden retriever donated by Goldens of Country Acres in Maine.

In addition to the two graduating teams, ACTS will celebrate Carter and his success with MSA Security. After a year of training with ACTS, Carter moved to MSA Security in New York. It was determined that he was not suitable for service dog or therapy dog work.

“His personality and drive seemed appropriate for explosive detection,” Robin Crocker, director of the local ACTS said.

After his training with MSA Security, Carter graduated and was placed with his partner in New York City where he will work as an explosive detection canine. Carter was donated by Ciarafella’s Labs and Goldens in Effingham and raised by Myrraya Potter of North Conway and Rebecca Skelton of Conway.

Graduation is open to the public. The one-hour ceremony will celebrate the three graduating dogs and all the volunteers and donors who made and continue to make these placements possible. For more information on graduation, go to AssistanceCanine.org.

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