Community editor and columnist Kris Capps is a longtime resident of Fairbanks and Denali Park. Contact her at, in the office at 459-7546 or by cell at 322-6334. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMKris.

Don’t be surprised if the next time a Companions Inc. pet visits, the pet leaves an official calling card.

In an innovative move, volunteers can now get photos of their pets taken and printed on personal business cards for the pet. Not the owner.

“When they go with their humans to visit, they can leave a card with the person they are visiting,” according to Pam Sprout, president of Companions Inc.

The card will include some personal information about the pet and perhaps provide a nice memory for the person who was visited.

Volunteers with Companions Inc. have been making therapeutic visits and sharing their love of pets for more than 30 years.

In addition to the visits volunteers make with their pets, to places like Denali Center or Fairbanks Memorial Hospital, the organization supports other pet-related organizations.

Their numbers are growing. Last year, 10 new members joined. That is a record, according to Sprout.

“We always look for new members and new pets,” she said.

In addition, the group hosts Pet Awareness Day, a Pet Show and the popular Run With A Friend. Members also donate funds to other nonprofits whose missions align with Companions Inc.

Some of those organizations were honored at Companions Inc. annual meeting last week.

Tim Erickson with Cold Spot Feeds accepted the award for Business Partner of the Year.

“Cold Spot offers such an incredible support system,” Sprout said.

She creates a quilt every year and volunteers sell raffle tickets for that quilt at Cold Spot Feeds. The money earned from that quilt is what goes to some of the award winners.

This year, the Fairbanks Dog Park earned a Companions Inc. community service award and a donation of $1,000 from Companions Inc. Another community service award was granted to Interior Rabbit & Cavy, along with a donation of $500. The funds will be invested in their youth program, according to Bianca Haering.

The third community service award went to Reptile, Amphibians & Exotics. That group was chosen, Sprout said, because of their focus on rescues and community education regarding reptiles.

“Reptiles also require a great deal of care and maintenance,” Sprout said.

All the local volunteers were honored by name and the number of years they have served with Companions Inc.

Jamie Marschner was honored for most hours serving with her pet.

The volunteer of the year, a closely guarded secret until the annual meeting, was finally revealed to be Gary Walker. He has been a member of Companions Inc. for 33 years and according to his wife Chelsea, has served on every possible committee over the years. He diligently collects the dues at every annual meeting.

The annual meeting, held at Denali Center, also included a pet costume contest, with a long line of creative and colorful entrants.

Reach columnist/community editor Kris Capps at Call her at the office 459-7546. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMKris.