COLDWATER, Mich. (WLNS) – It’s a story of second chances both for man.
“To me I feel like it saved me,” said Roger Ruthruff.
It’s all part of a mission led by the non-profit called Refurbished Dogs of Southern Michigan. The group selects dozens of dogs who are struggling to be adopted or who have behavioral challenges and takes them here to the Lakeland correction facility in Coldwater.
Ten weeks of training, all done by the inmates. While here the dogs stay in their own separate living area and come out for training every day. The non-profit says the goal is that the dogs will graduate and leave – ready for a second chance.
“Help the families that are adopting these dogs that maybe had a bad experience or are looking for a certain kind of dog to fit their household,” said the Leader for Refurbished Pets of Southern Michigan, Michelle.
The success stories are found in the pages and letters sent back from people who adopt the dogs. Inmate Roger Ruthruff has been a part of the program for years. He says it gives him a new purpose.
“I’ve been in this program for ten years and it’s completely changed my perspective on everything including life and it’s shown me so much patience and understand and caring for something else.”
Care for these dogs is also felt by every inmate. They don’t know the mistakes of the past. They only see a friend, and for others like William Doss. It’s that level of trust and love that he carries with him with every dog he trains.
“To be able to work with them and to be able to give the best of yourself and ultimately what it do is build self-confidence, so for example when I look in the mirror I don’t see a bad person. I see a good person and a person that is capable of making good choices and good judgment,” said Doss.
The non-profit says they’re making a huge difference in the rescue community, but they believe that those lessons the dogs are teaching are just as important.
“I’ve heard a handler tell me that his mom and dad had never told them they were proud of him until he entered this program and he was paroled and he’s out living his life and he’s putting to good use what he’s learned in here,” said Michelle.
With every session and with every belly rub, Ruthruff says it’s the relationships he builds here that he knows will go beyond these prison walls.
“What I’ve always said is that I may never get another chance out there but every dog that leaves here takes a little piece of me with it,” Ruthruff said.
The non-profit is looking for more volunteers to help with things like transporting the dogs. To get involved or to learn more there is a link here.