Through a chance encounter, a local teenager found his passion is helping raise money to train assistance dogs that in turn help other people.
“It all got started with a bad hair day,” 15-year-old Dylan Kurtz said.
He submitted a photo of his uncooperative hair one morning hoping to be included in a photo shoot that would raise money for children in foster care. He struck up a conversation with the photographer, who told him about another organization
“So she ended up telling me about paws4people because she knew I had a brother on the autism spectrum and they help children on the autism spectrum and children with disabilities,” Dylan said.
But it costs $60,000 just to train one dog.
"It’s anywhere from a year to 18 months,” Randy Powers said. “Some specialized dogs like scent dogs, diabetes, seizure alert, they’re in training a little bit longer."
Dylan finds ways to raise money for paws4people.
“Most 14-year-old boys are out at the movies, out with their buddies, out playing sports, and Dylan’s looking at ways to change people’s lives,” Powers said.
In three years, he has helped raise more than $10,000.
Dylan has spoken on behalf of the organization, and standing in front of big groups taught him the calming force the dogs can provide.
“The first time especially, I had a nervous breakdown, but all the service dogs that had been trained by paws4people picked up on my stress, and they comforted me, and that’s what helped me get through it that first time,” he said.
Dylan’s philosophy on helping others is simple: Anyone can make a difference, and it can all start with something as simple as a bad hair day.
He said what the organization really needs is people to host puppies before they go into the prison training program.
Reported by Leon Harris, produced by Michelle Montgomery and edited by Scott Eisenhuth.