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Canine Pals Make Prison Life Easier For Rush City Inmates

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(credit: CBS) Rachel Slavik
Rachel Slavik joined the WCCO team in October of 2010 and is thrill...
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RUSH CITY, Minn. (WCCO) – Rush City’s prison is a level-four security facility that houses some of the most dangerous criminals in Minnesota.

It’s the last place you’d expect an organization to turn to in order to save a life

Rush City houses inmates like Richard Patterson and Clayton Keister – two men who’ve been convicted of murder.

“I’ve been in prison for, you know, close to seven years now,” Patterson said. “I got 10 more years left to do and I feel this is a way of me giving back.”

Timber and Reggie are part of a foster program through Pause for Paws and Rescued Tails. At the prison, the dogs are trained, taken care of and saved from high-kill shelters.

“They were going to put her down so any place is better than that,” Keister said.

This program not only gives dogs like Timber a second chance at a home. According to guard Renee Green, they’re already noticing positive changes at the prison.

“They’re happy, they’re smiling, they’re more talkative with each other, with the staff,” Green said. “One of the offenders, during the interview process, said it’s actually building a bridge between the staff and the offenders, which is amazing.”

These men may be behind bars, but they are still reminded of what it means to be at their best.

“[Dogs] just love you regardless,” Patterson said. “He gives me inspiration to show me that I can move on. That I can keep pushing.”

The inmates may be these dogs’ only chance at a future, but who’s really saving whom?

“It gives you a chance to get in touch with your humanity again,” Keister said.

The goal is for the dogs to eventually find permanent homes outside the prison.

Inmates have to apply to become part of the program and need a history of good behavior.

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