Inmates and puppies making a difference for kids in need - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Inmates and puppies making a difference for kids in need

It's a big reunion for Nick Walczak's service dog, Turner, who was trained by WAGS4KIDS and Rodney Houghton, who's currently locked up in a state prison. (Source: WOIO) It's a big reunion for Nick Walczak's service dog, Turner, who was trained by WAGS4KIDS and Rodney Houghton, who's currently locked up in a state prison. (Source: WOIO)
GRAFTON, OH (WOIO) - WAGS4KIDS is teaming up prison inmates and puppies. The creative combination means a special holiday gift for kids in need, including Chardon High School shooting survivor Nick Walczak. 
 
It's a holiday party -- that's filled with hard core prison inmates, dogs and Nick Walczak. It's a big reunion for Nick's service dog, Turner, who was trained by WAGS4KIDS and Rodney Houghton, who's currently locked up in a state prison in Grafton. Houghton is serving a 13-year sentence for aggravated robbery. 

He, along with 23 other inmates, get a chance to live with and train a dozen puppies.
 
"You do have an emotional attachment to the dog, but there is a greater purpose to it and you learn that over time," explained Houghton.
 
When the pups reach the stage of talented service dogs, WAGS4KIDS match them with a child in need.     
 
If a inmate breaks the rules of WAGS4KIDS' program, they get the boot as a trainer. 
 
"When I was shot I was put in this wheelchair. Now this wheelchair is an extension of me, but with the wheelchair came Turner ,so that is a blessing," said Walczak.
 
These trainers almost never meet the people they help.

"They are making a difference with every dog they train for every kid," said Walczak.
 
The inmates also never see the dogs they train ever again. 
 
"For him to come in among us inmates and trust us, and believe in what we do, is an awesome thing," said Houghton.
 
Learn more about the dogs and the kids they help on the WAGS4KIDS website.

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