GRAFTON -- Chardon High School shooting survivor Nick Walczak went to prison today. Not for a crime, but to speak to inmates interested in joining a service dog training program.
W.A.G.S. 4 Kids, Working Animals Giving Service 4 Kids, is expanding into the Grafton Correctional Institution. W.A.G.S. 4 Kids is a charity organization that provides service dogs to disabled children in need.
Walczak received his dog, Turner, from the organization last year.
Training a dog can be expensive, that's why W.A.G.S. 4 Kids utilizes prison inmates. Their first program started at the North Central Correctional Complex in Marion. Inmates cared for and worked with the dogs 24/7.
It's a win-win situation for the children, the organization and the inmates themselves who learn a skill they can use when they are released from prison.
Walczak told the inmates how Turner changed his life and how grateful he is to the inmates at NCCC for training him.
Thirty-six inmates at GCI expressed interest in joining the W.A.G.S. program, but program director, Wendy Crann, says that field will be narrowed down to about a dozen, and she hopes to start training six dogs here in the next couple of months.
W.A.G.S. is holding its second annual Cleveland "Have A Heart" charity bachelor raffle presented by Harry Buffalo on June 25 at the Barley House from 6 p.m. until 10 p.m. Twenty-five eligible men will be raffled off for custom dates. One hundred percent of the proceeds benefit W.A.G.S. and will be used to empower local children with dogs that can provide therapeutic, emotional and physical support.