a row of yellow lab puppies in yellow puppy capes sitting in a field

East Bay Miracles Chapter

Canine Companions
Northwest Region


The East Bay Miracles Chapter is an enthusiastic group of puppy raisers, breeder caretakers, graduate teams, and other volunteers from the East Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area. We also have volunteers from San Francisco and Santa Clara counties. Our mission is to support Canine Companions through fundraising and community awareness, and to support one another as we do our work.

The East Bay Miracles chapter, chartered in 2007, continues to grow as more people learn about our important mission.


We give presentations and demonstrations to organized groups such as service clubs, church groups and schools. We also participate in many public events such as corporate health fairs, Bark in the Park, and the Danville Fourth of July Parade. We do craft fairs and attend other events to both raise awareness and raise funds.

Our main fund-raising event is DogFest, held in the fall of each year.

Teamwork, social outings, lifelong friendships, and dedication to our mission, help make the East Bay Miracles Chapter a fun and rewarding volunteer organization.

Volunteer with the East Bay Miracles Chapter

We’d love to have you help us share the mission of Canine Companions. Please click here and someone will be in touch shortly.


Events in the Northwest Region

Sit Stay Sparkle logo and Canine Companions puppy

Sit Stay Sparkle

Join us for Canine Companions annual Sit Stay Sparkle event in Santa Rosa, CA or Seattle, WA. Hear from our clients and meet their life-changing service dogs, see our adorable puppies and enjoy a delicious dinner. Bid on exciting items in our live and silent auctions, and watch the premiere of the newest Canine Companions short film.

Click here to read more about this event.


Pam Durkin and yellow lab

Chapter President

Pam Durkin

Responsible for providing leadership for the chapter, leadership teams and committees, including presiding at leadership, chapter and strategic planning meetings. The president also acts as liaison between the regional center and the chapter and works with chapter to attain goals. Pam has been donating to Canine Companions for 6 years. After retiring 3 years ago, she started volunteering with the East Bay Chapter. Been a chair for DogFest all three years and Vice President of the chapter for the last two. Often puppy sits for our dogs and litters.

Karen Cervantes and yellow lab

Vice President

Karen Cervantes

Provides support to the president and committees in needed areas, and focuses specifically on leadership team and committee recruitment, development and mentorship. Karen was first introduced to Canine Companions as a puppy raiser back in 1998. In 2014, she was reconnected with the organization and East Bay Chapter when her family became Breeder Caretakers to Minerva. They have had 4 litters to date and are looking forward to more miracles in the making.

Dawn Abrahamson and yellow lab

Secretary & Treasurer

Dawn Abrahamson

Responsible for keeping records of leadership team meetings, chapter meetings and maintaining the chapter yahoo group. Dawn is a Graduate with Hearing Dog Every. She graduated on March 3, 2017 and has been involved with the East Bay Chapter since April 2017.

Gretchen Loughran and black lab

Community Outreach

Gretchen Loughran

Responsible for researching opportunities and creating a planned approach for opportunities to educate the public. Engaging and supporting Chapter volunteers for events is important to the success of this Committee and these events. Gretchen raised a "Guide Dog for the Blind" Puppy named Lovey, in Hong Kong in 2018. Since moving back to be close to her family, she's joined Canine Companions to continue her love of working with dogs and helping people who need assistance. By day, she is a special education teacher and now has her own rescue dog, Buddy.

owman holding a new born puppy next to her face

Breeder Caretaker Outreach

Amelia Ausman

Provide support for and encourage communication between breeder caretakers. Responsible for keeping list current and tracking litters annually. Amelia started with Canine Companions when her daughter Courtney met Breeder Caretaker Karen Cervantes and her litter of labs. It took no convincing to know that this would be a fun way to work with puppies and bring independence to people with disabilities. They adopted Mimi III shortly afterwards and have whelped 5 litters with a total of 49 puppies. Since Mimi is now retired, Amelia is a back-up breeder caretaker and has most recently whelped and cared for a new litter of labs in her home. When not whelping puppies she is a veterinarian in Orinda and is married to Marc and has three kids in college. In her spare time she enjoys the outdoors and hiking.

Cheri Van Pelt and 2 yellow labs

Puppy Raiser Outreach and Trainer

Cheri Van Pelt

Responsible for training classes for the chapter, maintaining current puppy raiser list and puppy raiser communication. Cheri started volunteering for Canine Companions for Independence in 1999 as a puppy raiser. She is currently co-raising Casey with Nancy Missildine. Cheri is also the East Bay contract trainer and teaches puppy classes on some Saturday's each month.

Theresa Rowland and yellow lab

Graduate Outreach

Theresa Rowland

Research and develop support programs for graduates including, but not limited to: scheduling opportunities for graduate dogs to play, working with graduates and staff to develop skill- building workshops and welcome new graduates. Responsible for maintaining graduate list. Theresa joined the East Bay chapter in the summer of 2018, and has been volunteering at events, ever since. She is a lifelong educator and part of the disability community.

Rachel Sheppard and dog on the beach

Facebook, Instagram and Meetup Group

Rachel Sheppard

Responsible for publishing chapter Facebook and Instagram posts in alignment with Canine Companions standards. Also responsible for posting pertinent events to chapter meetup group. Rachel originally learned about Canine Companions for Independence during her time in the Animal Science & Management program at UC Davis. In 2014, while attending Santa Clara University Graduate School of Business she was looking for local volunteer opportunity where her social media skills could be useful, and found a perfect opportunity with Canine Companions for Independence East Bay Miracles.