Wendy Crann (left) and Sera Nelson (right)
BEREA – Working Animals Giving Service for Kids’ (W.A.G.S. 4 Kids) Board of Directors announced April 1 that Wendy Crann, Executive Director, will retire from her position effective June 30 after co-founding the organization 16 years ago. Crann will be succeeded by Sera Nelson, currently the Director of Development and Special Events at W.A.G.S. 4 Kids.
Under Crann’s leadership, W.A.G.S. 4 Kids has earned a regional reputation as a service provider for children with disabilities. In a 2014 report by CBS News, W.A.G.S. 4 Kids was highlighted as a program that “helps disabled children make the most out of their lives.”
Throughout Crann’s tenure, more than 90 service dogs have been placed throughout 22 counties around Northeast and Central Ohio. She has authored two training manuals: “Dogs Don’t Speak English” and “ Step By Step,” both of which have been used as curriculum for The Accredited Apprenticeship Service Dog Training Program for The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction at Grafton and Mansfield Correctional Institutions, and North Central Correctional Complex. Over 300 inmate trainers have been part of the program since W.A.G.S. 4 Kids’ partnership with the ODRC began in 2007.
“After more than 15 years since my founding of W.A.G.S. 4 Kids, what stands out to me most is not what I have done, but rather what I have learned,” Crann reflects. “I have learned: One person can make a difference and that one person must; that every talent has value when used for the benefit of another; that the human spirit is one of ability, perseverance and courage that no disability can steal away; and that today is the day.”
In 2003 Crann, an animal trainer, along with her husband Ed Crann, a special education teacher, developed the idea of training service animals exclusively for special needs children. There were no other service dog programs for children available anywhere at the time. W.A.G.S. 4 Kids has been driven by belief in early intervention and is dedicated to working with a family to bene