A therapy dog ​​joins the Buffalo Grove Police Department.

A furry, four-legged new employee has joined the Buffalo Grove Police Department.

Therapy dog ​​Gus is a 4-year-old white Labrador Retriever Standard Poodle mix who will work with Police Social Worker (PSW) Brittany Wilson to build positive bonds 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 service. The modality will bring comfort to people in times of crisis and provide relief and comfort to individuals, groups and communities affected by violence, tragedy or traumatic events.

A therapy dog ​​is also a very effective tool to help police officers and other first responders cope with the stress and impact of what they experience on the job every day.

Wilson first proposed the idea of ​​adding a therapy dog ​​to the police department in April 2018. She found out about the non-profit organization KSDS Assistance Dogs, which would provide a fully trained therapy dog ​​for free in addition training of dog handlers.

Wilson was given permission to submit an application and was placed on a waiting list. At the time, it was expected that she would receive a dog in early 2021. Due to COVID-19 and other factors, the originating organization was unable to meet the demand. Wilson then contacted the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office in Florida and applied for their therapy dog ​​program.

She was selected to attend the Paws & Stripes College December Program in Cocoa Beach, Florida. The free program was started by the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office in 2006. It pairs trained and carefully screened inmates with specially trained shelter dogs as therapy dogs for law enforcement.

All selected dogs receive basic obedience training and are selected for their temperament and behavioral characteristics. The program is aimed at citizens who would benefit from the company of a canine friend.

Wilson completed the 40 hour advanced training course with Gus and became certified as a Nationally Registered Therapy Dog Team.

Wilson received financial support from Target in Wheeling, food from Page’s Healthy Paws in Lake Zurich, and discounted veterinary services from Animal Care Center in Buffalo Grove. Additionally, TOPS Kennel in Grayslake continues to work with Wilson and Gus for ongoing training.

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