Vernon Hills students' essays lead to emotional support dog in police department
LAKE COUNTY, Ill. - For the last five years, students at Vernon Hills schools have written persuasive essays on why the police department should have a K9.
This year, 200 sixth-graders wrote letters calling for an emotional support dog, and on Monday they met her for the very first time.
"Pawficcer" Billie is a rescued lab mix that cost Vernon Hills about $6,000. The police department says what she offers, though, is priceless.
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Sixth-graders in Hawthorn School District 73 wrote essays about officer suicide rates, stress for officers, and anxiety for residents in the community. One letter even cited a past FOX 32 News report on how dogs can help in domestic abuse situations. That was enough for Chief Patrick Kreis to get the go-ahead for Billie to join the department.
Billie had 12 months of training in obedience and emotional support techniques. Only on the job a few days, Billie is already changing lives.
"The person arrested had a six-year-old daughter with (him) and we had to arrest him, but now we have to take protective custody of the child and we had to hold on to the child of course until grandma came. Well again, my officers are really good about dealing with children but there's only so much an adult police officer in uniform (can do) to make a child feel comfortable," said Chief Kreis.
Billie lives at the police station and will be present at many community events, and those in attendance are encouraged to interact with her.