WAGS dogs and inmates find purpose in prison

Prisoners and Puppies with a Purpose in Lorain

Clyde prances out into the yard with the pep in his step of a Golden Retriever puppy.

Maybe he knows there's important work to be done again from beyond the barbed wire of the Grafton Correctional Institution.

It's these dogs purpose from inside prison, to grow into dogs like Noah.

"I love him," says Noah’s 15-year-old person, Tu Yen and adds, “He’s my best friend."
Noah’s purpose now is to help Tu Yen.

“My hips were born out of my sockets and I had to get surgery to get them back in," explains Tu Yen.

Now Noah has her back as Tu Yen relearns how to walk and regains strength.

She says he’s been helping her with balance.

It's what WAGS dogs do.

It's right there in their title… "Working Animals Giving Service” for kids.

“It’s really an opportunity for independence," says Wendy Crann, Executive Director of WAGS.

It’s why she started WAGS for kids 13 years ago.

Therapy with fur, you could say.

"It’s very evident when you see the dogs and the kids work together on things like opening doors and taking off shoes,” says Crann.

80 dogs total now placed with kids in homes.  11 more are in training right now in Grafton.

They have learned everything they know from inmates like Jerimiah Covey.

"We put a lot of love into these dogs," says Covey.

Hayward will be the next dog going home to his kid in a few months, to take what he learned in prison and improve the life of the next WAGS kid

"We help them to be the best dog they can be for the child.  For whatever disorder the child has we try to customize the dog for that child," says Covey.

It worked for Tu Yen who even wrote a Thank you note to the inmates.

"Thank you”, Tu Yen writes, “..for one of the greatest gifts anyone has ever given me, my service dog.  It’s like having sleepovers with my very best friend every single day"

"To actually see what you are doing and accomplishing, it's just a huge reward," says Covey.

For these guys, not just the dogs, it's purpose too, beyond an assigned inmate number.

"Oh yeah! It’s been a blessing.  You're worth something, you know what I mean? You mean something

Sometimes it empowers prisoners to get careers when they’re out.

For starters, WAGS has hired 2 former inmates.

Which makes the last sentence of Tu Yen’s letter such a win/win.

“Thank you for taking me one step closer to my main goal, independence," she writes.

 

© 2017 WKYC-TV


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