A program that uses homeless dogs to help change the lives of at-risk teens is going strong despite parting ways with the Humane Society of Wichita County.
Paws for Greatness started nearly four years ago but just last fall cut ties with the shelter.
And as Mechell Dixon found out, the separation has not stopped the program from getting bigger and better.
Since the inception of Paws for Greatness in 2010, coordinators say the program has helped dozens of at-risk teens and found forever homes for more than 100 homeless dogs.
Teaching a dog a new trick takes time and patience-- things coordinators for the program Paws for Greatness say is beneficial for at-risk teens.
"We started in 2010 with Wichita County Juvenile Probation. After about a year of working with them we wanted to open it up to other youth in the community. We feel like all teens between the ages of 13 and 18 are at risk for something," says Diann Bowman, executive director for Paws for Greatness.
So this program was designed to keep them focused on something positive-- dogs.
However, dogs that are paired with teens are not trained, like this one.
Sixteen year old Keelin Cheatle has gone through the program several times and says teaching undisciplined dogs is a life changer.
"I was impatient before and I'm way more patient than I was," Keelin explains.
Coordinators say since 2010, about 120 youth and about 130 dogs have gone through the Paws for Greatness program.
While coordinators say the dogs are now in forever homes they say the teen trainers are on the road to a brighter future.
"These are our... future volunteers and community leaders so we want to teach them to give back in a positive way to our community in any way they can," Bowman adds.
The program now teams with several businesses and area shelters and rescues.
Coordinators say acceptance in the program is only through referrals from teachers, counselors, therapists and other professionals who work with children.
And the next session begins next week.
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