A furry new employee with four legs has joined the Buffalo Grove Police Dept.
Therapy dog Gus is a 4-year-old white Labrador Retriever Standard Poodle Mix who will work with the department’s police social worker (PSW) Brittany Wilson to make positive connections in the community.
The function of a therapy dog is to provide interaction and connection during stressful events. This interaction reduces anxiety and increases communication between victims/witnesses and the police department. The modality will provide comfort for people during times of crisis, and provide aid and comfort to individuals, groups, and communities impacted by violence, tragedy or traumatic events.
A therapy dog is also a highly effective tool for helping police officers and other first responders deal with the stress and impact of what they experience on the job daily.
Wilson first proposed the idea of adding a therapy dog to the police department in April 2018. She discovered non-profit organization KSDS Assistance Dogs, that would provide a fully trained therapy dog in addition to handler training at no cost.
Wilson received approval to submit an application and was placed on a waiting list. At the time, it was projected she would receive a dog in early 2021. Due to COVID-19 and other factors, the original organization was unable to fulfill the request. Wilson then connected with the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office in Florida and applied for their therapy dog program.
She was selected to attend the December Paws & Stripes College Program in Cocoa Beach, FL. The free program was started by the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office in 2006. It pairs trained and carefully selected jail inmates with shelter dogs who are specifically trained as law enforcement therapy dogs.
All dogs selected receive basic obedience training and are screened for temperament and behavioral characteristics. The program is geared toward citizens that would benefit from the companionship of a canine friend.
Wilson attended the 40-hour advanced training course with Gus and became certified as a Nationally Registered Therapy Dog Team.
Wilson has received financial support from Target in Wheeling, food from Page’s Healthy Paws in Lake Zurich, along with securing discounted veterinary services from the Animal Care Center in Buffalo Grove. In addition, TOPS Kennel in Grayslake is continuing to work with Wilson and Gus for continued training.
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