Inmate teaching dog to help boy with autism

Inmate Christopher Vogt teaches Zachary Tucker. Photo courtesy of the Denver PostI’ve heard about programs where prisoners raise puppies to go on to train as guide dogs, but this story published in the Denver Post last week is the first one I’ve read about an inmate training a dog to help a child with autism.

The story says that convicted killer Christopher Vogt’s dedication to animals and skill with people have earned him trust at the Sterling Correctional Facility. Vogt taught a dog to fetch and retrieve things for a boy with cerebral palsy from his prison cell before, and now he’s working with Clyde, a 2-year-old chocolate Labrador retriever, to be a constant companion for Zack Tucker, a nine-year-old with Asperger’s Syndrome.

Zack’s father is an elementary school special-education teacher. He says in the story that he thinks Vogt is very attuned to Zack’s needs, and that the notion of having a convicted killer teaching his son does not make him nervous. Zack seems to have little reservations, either: the story reports that the 9-year-old eagerly followed the dog trainer’s instructions and never seemed distracted during the two-hour lesson.

I especially liked the story the reporter told to conclude his article. He said that when the session was over, Zack looked up at Vogt and said his mother had told him he was the best dog trainer there is in prison. The boy with autism then looked up at the prisoner and asked him if it was true. The convicted killer couldn’t answer. He just blushed.


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  1. Janene Tamborello Says:

    try the website They have dogs for all kinds of disabilities including autism.

  2. jenny machel Says:

    how do you and where do you even get started on getting a dog for a autism child?

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