Prison-Trained Therapy Dog Helps Oklahoma Veterans

Thursday, June 5th 2014, 7:20 pm
By: News 9

A 2-year-old Schnauzer mix is hard at work bringing smiles to the faces of residents at the Norman VA Center.

Just about everyone at the facility knows and loves Sarge. The story of how Sarge became a therapy dog is gaining attention through a documentary, one that has been nominated for a regional Emmy Award.

"What is there not to like about this dog," WWII veteran Clarence Walters said.

Sarge stays busy walking the halls, never missing the chance to give some love. The happiness Sarge shares with the American heroes can be traced back to convicted felons in Lexington, where inmates stay busy transforming troubled animals.

"Sarge was a little rough around the edges," said VA employee, Melissa Morrison. "They weren't really for sure how his training was going to go and if he was going to make it through the training."

But Sarge powered through and is now a perfect depression antidote. His story is up for one of broadcasting's highest honors thanks to a veterinarian-turned-filmmaker. Dr. John Otto worked with students at Oklahoma City Community College on the project. Otto co-produced "The Dogs of Lexington."

Watch "The Dogs of Lexington"

"The OCCC students filmed the whole thing," Otto said.

The success of the documentary is making an impact. Other prisons across the state and around the world are taking notice, according to Otto. It's exciting news for the veterans and Sarge.

"I think [Sarge] holds a special place in all of their hearts," said Morrison. "I think the veterans hold a special place to him."

The Heartland Chapter Emmy Awards ceremony will be held July 12.