Offering a Helping Paw

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A Florence police officer, paralyzed while doing his job, gets special gift from an inmate. The man, who is serving a life sentence, spent six months training an ordinary dog to become a service dog.

Walter Hall sat in a wheelchair to make it easier for Abby, the golden retriever, to learn how to work with someone, like officer Toby Bethel, who is paralyzed.

After half a year of training, Bethel got to take home his new friend, and helping paw. He says, other than his wife, Abby is his best friend, "It's sure changed my life to have her with me everyday."

Nearly three years ago, Officer Bethel was shot by fugitive twin brothers, Joel and Michael Stovall during a manhunt. He says now, Abby must help him with everyday tasks. She opens elevator doors, moves things out of his way and pulls him up handicap ramps, which Hall says was the hardest thing to teach her.

Hall is serving life in prison on drug related charges. He says Bethel is not the only one who benefitted from his training Abby, "I've always had dogs when I was out there on the streets, so to have a dog in my cell with me everyday is kind of the coolest thing in the world."

He worked with her for several hours a day. Now, Abby knows 31 voice commands and a few tricks to boot.